Employment: Vocational Training and Life Skills


Vocational Training and Life Skills:

There are many vocational training programs in both the comprehensive high schools and charter schools in which students with disabilities may participate in. Vocational training helps students to gain the necessary skills to obtain and maintain paid employment eventually. Students with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in courses which include Community Based Vocational Education (CBVE) programs. These programs place students in various employment settings for unpaid work experience. A training plan is developed separately from the IEP which will provide details of the job skills the student will be learning and how the student will be evaluated. The Department of Labor sets guidelines for these type of training programs so that the students are not taken advantage of for free work and that paid employees are not losing work. Students may participate in on-the-job training for up to 120 hours per job experience. For example a student may be placed at a local grocery store. The student may work 120 hours as a front-end assistant (bagger), then rotate to work in the produce department as a product assistant for another 120 hours. But the student could not work as a bagger at a large grocery chain for 120 hours and then as a bagger at a different grocery store chain for another 120 hours. Even though the location changed the job duties did not. Thus it is considered the same job. The same goes for students placed in other job settings such as dishwashers or table bussers at restaurants.

How can a person gain access?

Contact the ESE Coordinator at the student’s high school to learn about the CBVE courses offered. Once it is decided that the student would benefit from participating in job training, the IEP team will need to amend the IEP to include community based job training as an ESE service along with accommodations and other services needed to be able to work in the community.

Career Choice Programs in the high schools

What are Choice Programs? 
Families with students entering Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12 have the opportunity to choose from an array of theme-based curricula offerings at the elementary, middle, and high school levels that provide innovative and rigorous academic instruction by specially trained teachers. These programs provide students with a pathway to post-secondary educations and career options.
Students with disabilities may apply for Choice programs or may be able to select elective career courses offered at their assigned high school. Once accepted in a Career Choice program, the IEP should include accommodations that the student will need to achieve the goals of the course. It is important to know that students with disabilities may have course modifications such as breaking down the mastery of specific skills during a semester course. For instance if a student can only master 5 of 10 competencies, also known as occupational completion points, during a semester, the course can be taken again to master the other 5 competencies without counting against the student’s grade or the number of completers in the program for the district. Click Here to learn more about accommodations, the state has a booklet titled: Accommodations and Modifications for Students with Disabilities in Career Education and Adult General Education.

How are accommodations and modifications provided in Career/Vocational Programs?

“Career education courses are different at the high school level. Rule 6A-6.0312(1), F.A.C., authorizes the use of modifications for career education (vocational) programs. Modified occupational completion points may be developed for students in conjunction with their IEP.

Each district must develop an approach to MOCPs that meets the needs of their local communities and students. Secondary students may use modified career education courses to meet requirements of a standard diploma. Course outcomes may be modified through the IEP process for secondary students with disabilities who are enrolled in a postsecondary program if the student is earning secondary (high school) credit for the program. This is commonly known as “shared enrollment.” Course outcomes and student performance standards may not be modified for adult students enrolled in postsecondary career education or adult general education. When students are enrolled in programs in vocational education for students with disabilities, supported competitive employment for adults with disabilities, or adult general education for adults with disabilities, the particular outcomes and student performance standards that the student must master for an Literacy Completion Points (LCP) or Occupational Completion Point (OCP) must be identified throughout the student’s Adult Individual Education Plan (AIEP) process.”

“If adults with disabilities meet the admissions standards of a postsecondary education program, they must be ensured equal opportunity for participation in the program, including program accessibility, use of auxiliary aids and services, and academic accommodations. Adults with disabilities must self-identify, provide documentation of their need for services based on their disability, and assist in identifying needed accommodations. The educational institution may request additional documentation of the disabling condition, including diagnostic test results and professional prescriptions for auxiliary aids. The adult student must give permission to request confidential records. Adult students must directly notify the coordinator of student services for students with disabilities or the 504/ADA coordinator that they have a need for certain accommodations. In addition, the institution may obtain its own professional determination of whether the requested aids or services are necessary.

Students enrolled in a postsecondary career certificate program must complete a basic skills examination within the first six weeks after admission. According to Rule 6A-10.040(1), F.A.C., and s. 1004.91(3), F.S., the Florida College Entry-Level Placement Test or Multiple Assessment Placement Service (MAPS), where authorized, and the Wonderlic Basic Skills Test (1993) may be used for this assessment in addition to the Tests of Adult Basic Education (TABE) used for adult general education.

Accommodations for students with disabilities are permitted. Alternative assessment instruments may be used if the above testing instruments are not appropriate for an individual adult student.

The basic skills requirement for career certificate programs are EXIT requirements. A student may enter the program before reaching minimum basic skill levels. Students enrolled in programs of 450 hours or longer must be tested. The student must meet the basic skill requirements when exiting at the final Occupational Certification Points (OCP) of the program and earning a career certificate of completion. Adult students with disabilities may be exempted from this requirement in accordance with local testing policies (Rule 6A-10.040, F.A.C.).Some career education programs require certification and/or licensure examinations to meet state or national regulations for employment (e.g., nursing, cosmetology, real estate). The specific agency responsible for administering the examinations authorizes the provision of reasonable and appropriate accommodations for individuals with documented disabilities who self-identify and demonstrate a need.” Excerpted from “Accommodations and Modifications for Students with Disabilities in Career Education and Adult General Education Programs.”

How to gain access to Career Choice Programs:

In Palm Beach County the Department of Choice and Career Options offers a variety of school choice options for students in PreK-12th grade. The process for applying begins the school year before enrolling in a program. In the fall, usually late September or October, a Choice Program Fair will be held where all of the choice programs are showcased in one location. After the Choice Fair, schools have open house programs scheduled for students and parents to visit the school’s program. Before the end of the first semester, applications for Choice Programs must be submitted to the district Choice Program office. Some programs have auditions. Students with disability wanting accommodations during the audition must provide a copy of the IEP accommodations and services with ESE and 504 students must provide their ESE IEP or their 504 Accommodation Plan at the time of the audition is scheduled in order to request allowable audition accommodations. Parents are notified in March if the student is accepted in the program for the next school year.


Palmbeachschools.org: Choice Program website: Procedure Manual for Choice Programs Click Here

Written by: Iris Neil