What is PAES®?  

PAES® stands for Practical Assessment Exploration System.  PAES® is a hands-on work lab that is now available to the students at the Lakeland STAR School/Academy.  PAES® is located at the Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff, Wisconsin. It is located within the hospital, in the community, and at a work site for very specific reasons that are explained throughout this article. But first, let’s learn about what PAES® is all about.  When the students arrive to the PAES® lab, they are now acting as “employees”, and their teaching staff are now acting as their “work supervisors”. This is to give the students experience in learning what it is like to go to work. The students clock in to a timeclock software at the beginning of their work shift, and clock out again when they are through.    

Once they are clocked in, they “go to work” exploring nearly 300 jobs in five career areas that are based upon typical skills found at community-based job sites.  The students find out for themselves what job skills they are good at, and what job skills they like to do.   The students are given support and help when they ask for it, but mostly they work independently to see what they can do on their own. STAR staff keep track of how much assistance is needed and how the students learn the tasks; as well as scoring the quality of their work, and the time it takes for the students to complete the job tasks.  Staff also documents any accommodations or supports that are given that enable the students to perform specific jobs that otherwise they would not be able to do. The idea and hope is that these accommodations will eventually transfer to community as reasonable accommodations that are provided to employees who have paid employment in the community.  

PAES® is a great way to kick off a students’ transition towards work and independent life.  If students experience PAES® prior to going out to their first work experience in the community, they will be better prepared for work, they will know what work skills they are good at, and what work skills they like to do.  Because of this, their first work experience will have a much better chance to be a positive experience; and will gear them up for work success throughout life. 

PAES® was developed to prepare students for community-based work, work experiences, independent living, and/or post-secondary education.  The reports from PAES® help guide the students individual plan. The PAES® reports are helpful and useful to guide the students themselves, as well as parents, guardians, care givers, teaching staff, case manager/worker, guidance counselor, and county and vocational rehabilitation services.  

Fun PAES® Facts:  There are approximately eight PAES® labs in Wisconsin, 62 PAES® labs in Minnesota and 1820 in the U.S.  There are also approximately 10 active PAES® Labs in Canada.

Lakeland STAR School/Academy PAES® lab at the Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff, WI is the first of its kind (as far as TAI, the publisher of PAES® knows) to put their PAES® lab in a local community business.  This is a great concept, that will surely be followed.

Benefits of putting PAES® in the community:

Lakeland STAR School/Academy wanted to give their students an integrated employment experience for all their students.  Because PAES® is located at the Howard Young Medical Center, it does just that.  Students practice going to work each day that they work in PAES®. They experience other workers, pass by work situations, and are integrated within their community as they also learn about work for themselves.  The PAES® reports will show the students job skills strengths in specific work areas, their primary work interests, and work place strengths and needs. It will also show recommendations for community-based employment or recommendations for additional training and instruction.  The hope and plan is that after completion of PAES®, students will explore further work experiences and experiential learning based on their interests and abilities in PAES®. This may be within the hospital, other community businesses or other experiences. There are a host of experiential learning for work that students can benefit from including job shadow, internship, rotation, field trip, service learning, mentorship, and more.    

Charter school purchasing PAES®:

PAES® is meant to determine individual students learning and training style for future employment.  Because of this, PAES® was a perfect fit for Lakeland STAR School/Academy who’s teaching staff is specially trained to provide a personalized education, tailored to the way our students learn.  There are plans for continuing PAES® for the students of Lakeland STAR School/Academy throughout this school year of 2018-19. Expansion plans are to start by offering PAES® to Lakeland Union High School and Middle School students by the 2019-20 school year.  

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