Assessing Student Interest and Skills to Guide Program Placement

Posted on Categories Individuals with Disabilities, Recruitment and Retention

At a Glance

Students with IEPs who will be attending Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center (CWCTC) complete a career interest inventory and talent assessment program so that they can make informed decisions about which CTE program might best align with their interests and skills.


The Learning Support Facilitator at CWCTC wanted to improve the retention rate of IEP students who enrolled at CWCTC and reduce the rate at which students with IEPs switch their program areas. He realized that helping these students to identify their interests and strengths as they relate to careers before they enrolled in a CTE program might help them transition better to the CTC and remain enrolled throughout their high school years. The CWCTC began using a commercial assessment program called WayPoint to assess the skills aptitude, work interest and work personality of students.

The home school district’s special education team recommends students for the assessment in October through December of students’ 9th grade year. Testing lasts about four hours and takes place at CWCTC. Based on the assessment results, students select three CTE programs to explore. At this time, students are more aware about what each program involves, and they can make an informed choice. CWCTC staff enter the assessment and program selection results into the cloud-based system. Both the case manager and the student can access the results, and they use them to help determine which program might be the best fit. Students then apply to a program that fits both their interests and current skill set.

One of the greatest challenges to assessing IEP students is finding available time to conduct the assessments and coordinating with sending districts. To address these issues, a trained paraeducator assists with the testing so that twice as many students are assessed each day.


Since first using the assessment tool in 2013, the Learning Support Facilitator has observed two positive trends. Fewer students with IEPs return to their sending schools due to a lack of interest, and fewer students with IEPs switch programs within the CTC.


Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center
Mark Long, Learning Support Facilitator