3. Assessments

Explore & pre-test tools

The decision to work with the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development was in part a result of a study that the Mayor's office conducted to explore assessments used primarily for adult education. The project relied on their analysis of various assessments to determine the ones used for this project.

The assessments initially recommended for this project were: TABE, CASAS (already used by the institutions Skill Enhancement Program), Wonderlic, and CareerScope/VRII (paper pencil version of CareerScope). These assessments were to be administered to every participant. It was later recommended that Qwiz Reveal, and a series of Qwiz assessments for specific trainings be used to make sure that employees had the specific aptitude for some of the skills required of the specific position they were hoping to fill. For example, we used Qwiz assessments that uncovered employees’ knowledge of the use of the Internet and the computer (numerical and alphabetical dexterity on the key board) because one of the trainings had an on-line course segment. As the project progressed, the assessment facilitators recommended the use of BESI (Barriers to Employment Success Inventory), which would aid in the uncovering of barriers (career, emotional, financial, physical, and educational) that the employees may not be aware of or were not ready to reveal. In retrospect, if we had enough time a survey should have been developed during the pre-planning stages and administered to a sample set of employees. This survey should include questions that would provide the following information: length of time out of school, assessments already taken, work hours, the best time to take assessments, and how employees would fare on the assessments.

Develop schedules & administer tools

Once a completed application was received, one of two things occurred: the employees would call to confirm receipt of their application and would be forwarded to the assessment facilitators to schedule a time to conduct the assessments, or the assessment facilitators would call those employees once the application was complete.

Initially, the project tried to set pre-scheduled times for employees to come and conduct the assessments. However, this became impractical because the assessments if taken at one time might take up to 2.5 hours, and most employees conducted their assessments during their lunch hours or after their shifts. Usually, they didn’t have enough time to complete all of the assessments at one time; therefore, it was necessary for employees to come back to our offices to complete all of the assessments.

In addition, based on the Department of Labor's assessment practices it isn’t advisable to have employees take multiple assessments all at once for a long period of time as their ability to perform diminishes as time progresses. Also, it is recommended that employees are in the right state of mind when taking these assessments. Employees who came in during their lunch hours may still have work issues on their mind and also be pressured by the limited amount of time they have to complete the assessments. We, therefore, tried to schedule the shorter assessments during lunch hours, and the longer ones for folks who could come after their shifts. We adjusted the assessment facilitators schedule to accommodate those assessments that would be taken after the standard work day hours (evenings & weekends by appointments).

The schedules for assessments conducted off-site at the affiliates were coordinated by the assessment facilitators and the HR departments of those affiliates. In this instance, it was possible to pre-schedule set times for individuals to conduct these assessments. The departments at the affiliates worked out arrangements with the employees work schedules. It was necessary to conduct more than one visit with these employees. For those affiliates that were off-site, but still within a reasonable travel distance the employees came to our offices during their own time for their second visit. However, for the affiliate that was farther away, the assessment facilitators made second and possibly third visits to their location.

Analyze results & discuss with applicant

The analysis of results includes the actual raw score/results of the assessment and the informal interview with the assessment facilitators. The raw scores of the assessments provided the project with information on the basic skill level and aptitude for training in the position they are seeking to fill. However, there is an informal interview that provided additional information that must be considered when determining if someone would be successful in training and in the new position they were seeking.

The interview began with the responses the employees provided to the short essay question as to why they were in the program and the particular position. There are not a set of questions that are predetermined during the informal interview as this is the time for the employee to talk with someone casually, and not as if they were in an interview. However, there are general areas that the assessment facilitators needed to gain insight. The responses to the questions answered in the application provided insight to: an employees' motivation for the new position, their feeling about where they are currently in their professional and personal lives, possible issues that may be barriers to their success, the personality of the employee. Additionally, knowledge of the culture the new department the employee is seeking to enter is a foundational aspect of determining if there is a positive match between the employee and the opportunity this project presented. It is important to note at this stage that even though the project encountered individuals who were not ready for this opportunity.

These individuals were advised on ways to better prepare themselves for training and were provided with insights as to what it would take to pursue and achieve those interests. This empowered the participant to make their decisions fully informed of their capabilities, hidden and transferrable skills and interests, and the specific quantitative and qualitative aspects of the desired position listed on their application.

Once the assessments and informational interview were conducted the assessment facilitators met with the coaches assigned the participants/departments to discuss their findings. The informational interviews then continued with the coaches. At this time the coaches shared with the employees the components of the training (how long, where, etc.), further introduction to the new department and position, and the process involved in applying for the new job.

When working with a defined time frame it might have been more expedient to assess employees for their basic reading and math skills prior to the start of the application process. Also, this would have helped to project team manage the expectations of the employees better, and would have provided the department with more timely information on who was eligible for training and who needed skills brush-up. Also, the would have made management of the varying levels of skill development services needed earlier.