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St. Paul


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Practical Assessment Exploration Program (PAES)

There’s no better way to learn than to do a task on your own. With this in mind, Focus Beyond has a program to support students with disabilities to learn how to live independently and work in the real world.

The Practical Assessment Exploration System (PAES Lab) located at the Focus Beyond campus provides students with the instructions and equipment to complete a variety of job tasks ranging from collating papers to making change at a cash register to assembling bolts and pipes. PAES was developed by Dr. Judy Swisher over 30 years ago. It is a comprehensive, data-driven curriculum for students with special needs that provides:

  •  training in basic career & life skills
  •  exploration through hands-on experiences that help determine a student's career/vocational strengths
  •  a simulated work environment that allows staff to assess and address behaviors that may cause barriers to a competitive working environment
  • assessment of students' ability to work, interests in specific types of work and the type of support an individual would need in the work place

Focus Beyond staff work closely with students who enroll in the program as their supervisors. Staff assist students as they explore and learn new skills related to 264 jobs in five different work areas including:

  • Business/Marketing
  • Consumer/Service
  • Construction/Industrial
  • Processing/Production
  • Computer/Technology

The simulated workday requires students to clock in, put their belongings away, find a file with work procedures related to job assignments, go to a work station and perform the task independently. The supervisor then reviews their work and scores it for assessment. 

In addition, PAES assessment results provide staff with the data to develop and write post- high school goals & objectives as part of the transition IEP.