This weekend I took my son shopping for new shoes. We went to a national chain at a large mall in the D.C. area and had an unusually helpful and pleasant clerk wait on us. Chatting while my son tried on his tenth set of sneakers, this twenty-something shared that she had worked for her employer since she was 16. Recognizing the length of her service I said, “It must be a good company to work for.” Her reply startled me, “No, not really. They have started to make us take regular tests where we need to read and answers questions. And I don’t see what that has to do with being on your feet and running up and down ladders all day selling shoes.”
I get what she was saying. Assessments are an increasing part of education and work in our society. When it comes to assessing knowledge, skills, attitudes, and/or behaviors, many test takers may wonder the connection between an assessment and doing the work well. Often in school and employment settings assessments are given without an explanation of how it relates to the task at hand or how it may help the individual.
Youth service providers use assessments to develop meaningful individual service strategy for the youth served with Workforce Investment Act (WIA) youth funds. Sometimes, however, not enough time is given to matching assessments to what is most meaningful to measure; what will help and not hurt the self-esteem of vulnerable youth; and finding assessment validated on the disadvantaged population.
In providing quality youth services, it’s good to reflect once in awhile why a particular assessment is being used, if it is strength based, and if it lines up with the youth’s goals. Is this a practice that your program includes?
What assessment strategies yield the best results for your program?
How do you talk to the youth about assessment results?
Jennifer Kemp, Unit Chief, Youth Policy and Performance, USDOL, Employment and Training Administration