4.1 Overview of Employment Assessments

Employment assessments are tools that evaluate a customer's work and training background, general functional capacities, and social behavior. Employment assessments are designed to determine a customer's present and future vocational potential and to evaluate the customer's employment-related strengths and limitations.

This chapter includes information on the following employment-related assessment services:

  • Vocational Assessment;
  • Situational Assessments and Work Samples;
  • Environmental Work Assessment; and
  • Supported Employment Assessment.

Premium payments may be available for some Employment Assessment Services. Premium payments are paid after all deliverables for the service have been achieved. For more information about premiums, refer to Chapter 20: Premiums.

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4.2 Staff Qualifications

Before services are provided to customers, the service provider's director must approve the DARS3455, Provider Staff Information form, completed by each staff member, and submit the approved forms to the provider's assigned Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) contract manager and assigned TWC–Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services regional program support specialist or regional quality assurance specialist. The staff member must document the customer's qualifications on the DARS3455, Provider Staff Information form, and provide evidence of meeting all qualifications by providing, for example, transcripts, diplomas, reference letters, credentials, or licenses.

Each individual who administers vocational tests, batteries, or other instruments requiring certification must be certified by the appropriate entity.

The provider must provide the TWC contract manager and VR regional program support specialist or regional quality assurance specialist assigned to the contract with an up-to-date written list of vocational tests, batteries, or other instruments when the contract is executed or renewed, and any time instruments are added or deleted. The list must:

  • identify each instrument used to evaluate customers; and
  • describe what each instrument is intended to measure.

4.2.1 Vocational Evaluator

A vocational evaluator must hold:

  • a master's degree in vocational evaluation; or
  • a master's degree in a related field (for example, psychology, sociology, or education) and have two years of full-time experience as a vocational evaluator; or
  • a bachelor's degree in a related field (for example: psychology, sociology, industrial arts, etc.) and have three years of full-time experience as a vocational evaluator; or
  • a valid psychologist's license.

A vocational evaluator cannot supervise more than two vocational evaluator aides.

4.2.2 Vocational Evaluator Aide

A vocational evaluator aide must have:

  • one year of full-time work experience directly related to vocational evaluation; or
  • a bachelor's degree in a related field.

The vocational evaluator aide must work under the supervision of the vocational evaluator.

4.2.3 Environmental Work Assessment Evaluator

The environmental work assessment evaluator must have a current autism endorsement from the University of North Texas Workplace Inclusion and Sustainable Employment (UNTWISE).

The autism endorsement requires:

Information on the UNTWISE Texas credentials and endorsements can be found at http://wise.unt.edu/crptraining.

No waiver or exceptions can be used to waive the autism endorsement requirement.

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4.3 Vocational Assessment

4.3.1 Service Description

Vocational assessment is an evaluation of an individual's work and training background, general functional capacities, and social and/or behavioral characteristics. The vocational assessment must contain a detailed description of the customer's behaviors and must describe any implications for the workplace. The assessment must be designed to determine the customer's present and future vocational potential. The assessment also must include an evaluation of the customer's employment-related strengths and limitations.

The assessment must:

  • be conducted by the vocational evaluator;
  • document up to six hours of assessment per day; and
  • result in a vocational objective or alternative vocational objectives being identified by the vocational evaluator.

The following techniques are generally used to establish and measure a customer's work characteristics.

4.3.1.1 Standardized Tests

Standardized tests include tests that:

  • measure the customer's academic achievement, cognitive abilities, aptitude, personality, vocational interests, sensory and/or motor skills, and independent living skills; and
  • compare the individual's performance with the performance of an appropriate sample population.

All test instruments must be appropriate for use with the target population, including appropriate norms, adaptations, and accommodations.

4.3.1.2 Work Samples

Work samples provide a close simulation of an actual industrial task, business operation, or component of an occupational area. Work samples might not be necessary for all vocational assessments. However, when deemed necessary by the vocational evaluator or when requested on the referral form or service authorization, work samples must be completed.

The activities involved in conducting a vocational assessment and preparing a report include developing a case history, assessing information, performing standardized tests, and providing work samples, when appropriate.

The customer's case history must include:

  • contact information;
  • educational background;
  • employment history;
  • medical history;
  • social history;
  • psychological and/or emotional history and current stability;
  • daily living activities; and
  • independent living skills.

The following areas must be evaluated during the vocational assessment:

  1. Cognitive abilities, such as:
    • learning ability, including attention, concentration, comprehension, memory and/or retention, creativity, and conceptualization;
    • communication skills and interaction with others;
    • ability to follow oral and written instructions;
    • work organization and planning; and
    • spatial concepts
  2. Academic achievements (grade level) in reading, writing, spelling, and mathematics
  3. Physical abilities, such as:
    • fine motor abilities, including bimanual dexterity, speed, coordination, and strength;
    • gross motor abilities, including strength, balance, and coordination; and
    • stamina and/or physical tolerance and endurance
  4. Sensory abilities (identifying preferred learning style—visual, auditory, or tactile), such as the use of:
    • residual vision;
    • auditory processing and sound localization; and
    • tactile perception
  5. Aptitudes and vocational interests and/or exploration, such as:
    • specific equipment and technical skills; and
    • preferred vocational interests compared to abilities
  6. Behavioral observations and work habits, such as:
    • general and work-related behaviors;
    • self-image (pertaining to self and work);
    • appearance (for example, grooming, hygiene, appropriate clothing for the work setting);
    • motivation and attitude toward work;
    • attendance and punctuality;
    • travel to and from the work setting (for example, access to dependable transportation, understanding how to use transportation);
    • orientation within the work setting (for example, showing the customer where the work area is, restrooms, break rooms, supervisor's location);
    • work stability (including attention to work despite environmental distractions or changes);
    • work productivity and quality;
    • acceptance of supervision (accepting and responding to suggestions, corrections, and general feedback);
    • responsibility for materials and work;
    • adherence to workplace standards (for example, employee policies, rules, and schedules);
    • safety standards (understanding and adhering to specific workplace safety standards);
    • impulse control (for example, predictable behavior and adequate self-control);
    • stress tolerance;
    • cognitive flexibility;
    • persistence (following through on a work task to completion);
    • initiative (working independently);
    • job-seeking skills; and
    • the customer's potential to benefit from VR services.

4.3.2 Process and Procedure

An employment service provider receives a DARS3480, Referral for Vocational Evaluation, and a service authorization.

The DARS3480, Referral for Vocational Evaluation, includes any documentation that will:

  • prepare the provider to better work with the customer;
  • indicate the reasons for referral; and
  • include specific questions to be addressed during the assessment.

The scope of each assessment is determined based on the customer's individual needs. There are no fixed guidelines regarding the number of days required to complete an assessment. Generally, an assessment is expected to take one to eight days. The VR counselor determines the appropriate length of the assessment based on the assessment of the customer's individual needs and circumstances.

The vocational evaluator's job responsibilities during the assessment are to:

  • remain on-site to supervise all services, including the assessment;
  • supervise qualified vocational evaluator aides and maintain the following ratios:
    • One evaluator to no more than six customers without an aide
    • One evaluator and one aide to no more than 10 customers
    • One evaluator to no more than three customers with blindness and/or visual impairment
    • One evaluator and one aide to no more than six customers with blindness and/or visual impairment
  • provide written proof, through attendance records made available on request, that the correct ratio of customers to vocational evaluators and vocational evaluator aides is maintained;
  • identify appropriate and inappropriate behaviors using existing records, personal observations, and conversations with the VR counselor, the customer, family members, and others;
  • prepare a typed DARS2869, Vocational Evaluation Report, or a typed report with all required elements; and
  • review the customer's vocational interests, strengths, challenges, and recommendations with the customer, the customer's representation, if any, and the VR counselor, when requested on the DARS3480, Referral for Vocational Evaluation, or on the service authorization.

4.3.3 Outcomes Required for Payment

Vocational assessment reports must be submitted using a DARS2869, Vocational Evaluation Report, or a typed report containing all required elements outlined in the service description. The cumulative findings of a vocational assessment must be submitted no later than 10 working days from the last day of the assessment.

The report must describe the customer's behavior and must stress the vocational implications of the following factors:

  • results of the evaluator's findings and observations specified in the service description
  • potential for competitive integrated employment, or the reasons that competitive integrated employment is not appropriate, when applicable
  • job recommendations related to the current job market using the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes for the customer's geographic area
  • specific training options that match the customer's capabilities
  • specific job modifications and/or accommodations necessary to achieve the employment goal

The DARS2869, Vocational Evaluation Report, or the typed report must contain the original handwritten signature of the vocational evaluator who conducted the assessment.

When requested on DARS3480, Referral for Vocational Evaluation, or on the service authorization, the vocational evaluator must complete a feedback session with the customer, the customer's representative, if any, and the VR counselor, to review the evaluator's recommendations and the customer's vocational interests, strengths, and challenges.

To request partial payment for work that has not been completed in its entirety, a DARS3472, Contracted Service Modification Request, can be submitted. Justification for why the vocational assessment cannot be completed in its entirety must be included on DARS3472, Contracted Service Modification Request.

A partial work product, such as a report and documentation of the time spent completing the deliverables, must be submitted with the DARS3472, Contracted Service Modification Request, and must be approved by the TWC-VR director before any partial work is invoiced. The achievement of required deliverables and the hours spent is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. See Chapter 3: Basic Standards for information on how to complete DARS3472, Contracted Service Modification Request.

4.3.4 Fees

For more information, refer to 4.7 Employment Assessments Fee Schedule.

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4.4 Situational Assessments and Work Samples

4.4.1 Service Description

A Vocational Assessment must be completed before the Situational Assessment and Work Samples are administered.

The Situational Assessment and Work Samples are tools to help the customer and VR counselor determine long-term goals related to finding competitive integrated employment. The Combined Situation Assessments and Work Samples service must consist of the three situational assessments and at least four work samples. The work samples cannot be the same as the ones used in the vocational assessment.

The evaluator's observations and the customer's career goal, interests, preferences, and experiences are used to determine the type of job and support services necessary for the customer to find competitive integrated employment.

4.4.1.1 Situational Assessments

A situational assessment is conducted at three or more competitive integrated work sites within a business or industry setting in the community. The vocational evaluator must observe the customer for a minimum of two hours per competitive integrated work site.

The community-based assessments allow the customer to explore his or her ability to perform a variety of job tasks and help the customer make informed choices about the type of work environment and job tasks that he or she prefers.

Situational Assessments:

  • assess the customer's ability to perform real job tasks that exist in industry (whether paid or unpaid);
  • demonstrate the customer's ability to do the tasks successfully; and
  • assess job tasks that have been carefully documented to show adherence to industrial norms.

Examples of the sites at which situational assessments may be conducted include production lines, jobsites, and areas within a provider's established workplace.

4.4.1.2 Work Samples

A minimum of four Work Samples that were not completed in the vocational assessment must be completed. Work samples provide a close simulation of an actual industrial task, business operation, or component of an occupational area.

The Situational Assessment and Work Samples, and report must include documented examples of the customer's behavior and the vocational implications of relevant factors, including:

  • the reason for referral, including the customer's response to specific questions asked by the referring VR counselor;
  • the customer's assets and capabilities;
  • the customer's disability and limitations (or special considerations);
  • the customer's physical capacities;
  • the results of medical examinations or related information obtained during evaluation, if appropriate;
  • the results of the evaluator's findings and observations specified in the service description;
  • the potential for competitive integrated employment or the reasons that competitive integrated employment is not appropriate, when applicable;
  • the job recommendations related to the current job market using the SOC codes for the customer's geographic area;
  • the specific training options that match the customer's capabilities; and
  • the specific job modifications and/or accommodations necessary for the customer to achieve the employment goal.

4.4.2 Process and Procedure

An employment service provider receives a DARS3480, Referral for Vocational Evaluation, and a service authorization.

The DARS3480, Referral for Vocational Evaluation, includes any documentation that:

  • will prepare the provider to better work with the customer;
  • indicates the reasons for referral; and
  • poses specific questions to be addressed in the assessment.

The scope of each Situational Assessment and Work Sample is determined by the customer's individual needs.

The vocational evaluator's job responsibilities during the evaluation are the following:

  • Remain on-site to supervise the provision of all services, including the Situational Assessment and Work Samples service.
  • Supervise qualified vocational evaluator aides and maintain the following ratios:
    • One evaluator to no more than six customers without an aide
    • One evaluator and one aide to no more than 10 customers
    • One evaluator to no more than three customers with blindness and/or visual impairment
    • One evaluator and one aide to no more than six customers with blindness and/or visual impairment
  • Provide written proof, through attendance records made available on request, that the correct ratio of customers to trainers and vocational evaluator aides is maintained.
  • Identify appropriate and inappropriate behaviors using existing records, personal observations, and conversations with the VR counselor, customer, family members, and others.
  • Prepare the typed report or the typed DARS1838, Situational Assessment and Work Sample Report.
  • Review the customer's vocational interests, strengths, challenges, and recommendations with the customer, the customer's representative, if any, and the VR counselor, when requested on the DARS3480, Referral for Vocational Evaluation, and/or on the service authorization.

4.4.3 Outcomes Required for Payment

The situational assessment and work sample reports must be submitted using a DARS1838, Situational Assessment and Work Sample Report, and this must be submitted no later than 10 working days from the last day of the assessment.

The report must describe the customer's behavior and must stress the vocational implications of the relevant factors outlined below:

  • The results of the evaluator's findings and observations specified in the service description
  • The potential for competitive integrated employment or the reasons that competitive integrated employment is not appropriate, when applicable
  • The job recommendations related to the current job market using the SOC codes for the customer's geographic area
  • The specific training options that match the customer's capabilities
  • Any specific job modifications and/or accommodations necessary

The typed report must contain the original handwritten signature of the vocational evaluator who conducted the assessment.

When requested on DARS3480, Referral for Vocational Evaluation, or on the service authorization, the vocational evaluator must complete a feedback session with the customer, the customer's representative, if any, and the VR counselor, to review the evaluator's recommendations and the customer's vocational interests, strengths, and challenges.

To request partial payment for work that has not been completed in its entirety, a DARS3472, Contracted Service Modification Request, is submitted. Justification for why the vocational assessment cannot be completed in its entirety must be included on the DARS3472, Contracted Service Modification Request form.

A partial work product, such as a report and documentation of time spent in completing the deliverables, must be submitted with the DARS3472, Contracted Service Modification Request form. The form must be approved by the VR director before any partial work is invoiced. The achievement of required deliverables and hours spent is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. See Chapter 3: Basic Standards for information on how to complete DARS3472, Contracted Service Modification Request.

4.4.4 Fees

For more information, refer to 4.7 Employment Assessments Fee Schedule.

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4.5 Environmental Work Assessment

4.5.1 Service Description

The Environmental Work Assessment (EWA) is a diagnostic tool that assesses how the customer responds to variables in a work environment. The EWA is an accurate assessment of the correlations between a customer's performance and environmental variables and is critical to the customer's ability to find and maintain employment. Results of the assessment identify the variables in a work environment that affect the customer's ability to function at his or her full potential.

The EWA is most appropriate for a customer who:

  • has a neurodevelopmental disorder that significantly affects him or her;
  • has a history of behavior that varies depending on the environment; and
  • may benefit from an evaluation that assesses how his or her neurodevelopmental disorder may manifest in a work setting.

The EWA evaluator assesses the customer's skills in at least three work (business) environments that align with his or her interests and the employment goal in the customer's individualized plan for employment (IPE), when known. Each environment is assessed for a minimum of two hours.

Exceptions

The following exceptions are allowed when conducting an EWA:

  • Conducting an EWA in another environment—Environments that accurately mimic the intended work environment are acceptable, when an intended work environment is not available or when another environment is in the best interest of the customer. For example, if the intended work environment is loud, busy, and bright, then the alternate environment in which the assessment is conducted must mimic those same variables in order for the assessment to be valid.
  • Assessing three environments during an EWA—One environment can be used twice, if changing the day or time would significantly alter the environmental variables. For example, the environment in a grocery store on a Saturday at 1:00 p.m. is significantly different from the environment at the same grocery store on a Sunday at 11:00 p.m. The assessment must be conducted in an environment that accurately mimics the intended work environment.
  • Spending at least two hours per environment—If appropriate, assessments in the same location can occur over time. For example, a customer can go to an environment for one hour on one day and go to the same environment for the second hour on another day.
  • Reviewing the results of the EWA with the customer in person—If an in-person meeting with the customer is not possible, the VR counselor may approve a teleconference to review the EWA results. The written approval must be kept in the evaluator's and the customer's case files.

The EWA can be conducted in any phase of the VR process, but it is typically conducted during the development of the IPE or as Trial Work Experience for assessing a customer's capacity to achieve an employment outcome. The EWA is not a Vocational Evaluation or a replacement for the Supported Employment Assessment (SEA).

However, if after an EWA is conducted and Supported Employment is deemed the most appropriate employment service, an abridged version of the SEA is permitted. See Chapter 18: Supported Employment, 18.1.12.1 Supported Employment Assessment.

4.5.2 Process and Procedure

An EWA evaluator must have a current bilateral contract for conducting EWAs before providing the service.

The VR counselor sends DARS1876, Environmental Work Assessment Referral, and a service authorization to the provider. The provider may request additional documentation from the VR counselor, such as case notes on psychological, vocational, or medical evaluations, that will prepare the provider to better work with the customer.

Billable time spent with the customer includes time spent on a combination of the following:

  • Gathering information with the VR counselor and other pertinent professionals related to the customer (conducted by email, phone, or in person)
  • Reviewing records
  • Visiting the customer's home
  • Observing the customer
  • Planning for assessments at each work site
  • Assessing the customer at each site
  • Completing the report and recording the scores
  • Meeting with the customer to review the assessment results, provide feedback, and plan next steps

After the EWA is completed, all results must be documented on the

The EWA evaluator must review the results of the EWA with the customer in person. The results must be presented to the customer in color; for example, printed with colored ink or viewed on a monitor that displays color.

4.5.3 Outcomes Required for Payment

The EWA evaluator documents in descriptive terms all the information required in the service description on DARS1877, Environmental Work Assessment, parts A, B, and C, and DARS1878, Environmental Work Assessment Time Log, demonstrating evidence that the customer's:

  • interests, assets, and abilities in work and nonwork areas were explored, identified, and summarized;
  • personal, social, school, and medical histories were collected;
  • self-assessment includes the customer's score of the 40 basic skills;
  • skills were assessed in three environments related to the following four domains, after the environmental demands were identified and rated:
    • Basic and social communication
    • Problem solving and executive functioning
    • Advanced social and communication
    • Self-regulation and emotional intelligence

The EWA evaluator documents in descriptive terms all the information required in the service description on the DARS1878, Environmental Work Assessment (EWA) Time Log, recording:

  • each session held with the customer;
  • locations at which the sessions were held; and
  • whether the time spent was direct or indirect, as well as whether:
    • no more than eight hours were spent on indirect services; and
    • no fewer than 12 hours were spent on direct services.

Payment is authorized when the EWA evaluator submits a complete, accurate, signed, and dated:

This is an outcome-based service; therefore, VR will not pay unless all topics in the service description and service authorization are addressed.

4.5.4 Fees

For more information, refer to 4.7 Employment Assessments Fee Schedule.

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4.6 Supported Employment Assessment

Refer to Chapter 18: Supported Employment, 18.1.12.1 Benchmark 1A: Supported Employment Assessment (SEA) and SEA Review Meeting.

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4.7 Employment Assessments Fee Schedule

A provider cannot collect money from a VR customer or the customer's family for any service charged in excess of VR service fees. If VR services and another resource are paying for a service for a customer, the total payment must not exceed the fee specified in the Standards for Providers manual.

Employment Assessments

Unit Rate

Comment

Vocational Assessment

$235 per day

  • Minimum hours per day is two with no more than six hours
  • Maximum payment allowed is $1,175
  • Incomplete assessments with the report are paid at $39 per hour, when DARS3472 is approved by the VR division director

Situational Assessments and Work Samples

$705

  • Paid only on receipt of a complete report, with all deliverables addressed

Environmental Work Assessment

$990

  • Paid only on receipt of a complete report, with all deliverables addressed

Premium payments may be available for some employment assessment services. Premiums payments are paid after all deliverables for the service have been achieved. For more information, refer to Chapter 20: Premiums.

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