PAES - Practical Assessment Exploration System

OUR MISSION: Motivate.

The goal of PAES is to determine what an individual can do on their own with as little help as possible.

“We never really know what a student can do until we give them a chance to try”

- Dr. Judith Swisher, PAES Founder & Author

What is PAES?


Expose your students or clients to a broad range of hands-on, generalizable work skills. They'll be better prepared for community work experiences, future employment and independent life!

Participants clock in and go to work exploring nearly 300 jobs in five career areas that are based upon typical skills found at community based job sites. Participants find out what job skills they are good at, and what job skills they like to do.

Convert your classroom or space to a Workplace

How better to determine a student's employment potential than to let them try all different types of jobs they might actually have in the future?

PAES exposes students to hundreds of essential work and life skills. PAES encourages workplace independence and motivates students to achieve more. Suiting a wide range of ages and abilities, PAES is customizable to a students level of need.

The goal of PAES is to determine what an individual can do on their own with as little help as possible.

PAES Meets a Variety of Public Mandates and Funding Programs

PAES Facilitates transition planning and job placement. The comprehensive report is very useful for developing Career Development Plans, School-To-Work Plans, IEPs (Individualized Education Program) and Transition Plans.


Congratulations New PAES Labs

University of Wisconsin Stevens Point

Detroit Lakes Minnesota

Moorhead Minnesota

Northern Plains Special Education Unit Bowbells North Dakota

Watford City High School North Dakota

Tioga Schools North Dakota

MVED St Peter Minnesota

Superior School District Wisconsin

Sisseton School District South Dakota

Ashwaubenon High School Green Bay Wisconsin

Valders High School Wisconsin

Legacy High School Bismarck ND

Barnum High School Minnesota

Wrenshall High School Minnesota

Appleton Area Schools Wisconsin

Bowbells High School North Dakota

Mitchell High School South Dakota

Cambridge Isanti Schools Woodland Campus MN

Shawano Community High School Wisconsin

Alexandria Area Schools Minnesota

Osseo Education Center Minnesota

Glencoe High School Minnesota

Pulaski High School Wisconsin

Richfield Transition Minnesota

Chippewa Falls High School Wisconsin

Williston High School North Dakota

Hartford Union High School District Wisconsin

Bloomington Kennedy High School Minnesota

Stevens Point SPASH Life Skills Center Wisconsin

Columbia Heights High School Minnesota

La Crescent Hokah Middle/High School Minnesota

MN Internship Center High School Minneapolis

Century High School Bismarck North Dakota

Bismarck High School Bismarck North Dakota

St Paul Schools Journeys Minnesota

Performance Based Assessment
PAES provides three types of hands-on, performance based assessments in one:


PAES is a Comprehensive Partner:

  • To Community Based Work
  • To Post-Secondary Education
  • Supporting Positive Outcomes for WIOA
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

PAES Curriculum Based Assessment is a Performance Based Measure of Employment Potential. All Assessment Scores contribute to the PAES Aptitude Scores on the PAES Performance Summary Report

PAES PROVIDES MEANINGFUL and CRITICAL INFORMATION FOR IEPs and TRANSITION ASSESSMENT There are so many benefits from PAES beyond the hands on exploration of nearly 300 Jobs. The PAES performance summary report defines the participants strengths and abilities in regards to their employment potential.

This report is provided to all involved:

Including : The Participant, Parents, Guardians, Care Givers, Teaching Staff, Case Manager/Worker, Guidance Counselor, County and VRS.


Predict Employment Potential with Data-Driven Results

Assesses aptitude, interests AND behaviors with scoring criteria like:

Quality of Work: The PAES evaluator inspects and scores each job for quality.

Work Rate: Each PAES job is timed and rated against the competitive job rates.

Amount of Assistance Needed: Was the PAES job performed independently? Or was assistance or accommodations needed? Assistance and Accommodations are provided, and scored and reported through the PAES scoring software to help ensure that transition goals will reasonably enable the participant to meet those post-secondary and/or work readiness goals


Participants say whether or not they like a job, every time they complete a job in PAES. Because every job is performed hands-on, this is a very accurate indicator of interest.


Each PAES job is broken down and assessed by individual sub task for when the need arrives. This is when a job has been attempted, assistance is given and the student is not expected to complete the PAES job entirely. The jobs are broken down to individual sub tasks in order to find out what sub task of the job can the participant can complete.

PAES Marketing Document Links:

PAES Lab COVID-19 Safety and Remote Learning Ideas

For PAES Lab Supervisors - This a sharing site for remote learning ideas for when your students cannot be in the PAES lab. This is a new sharing site. Feel free to access files, and if you have something you to share, please upload to the site.

For remote learning, some of the PAES teachers used Replicated Reality and made job boards with activities that can be done at home for the five career areas of PAES. There are some job boards within Replicated Reality for this purpose. 

Also, visit the Remote Learning Page of this website for more ideas. 

Attention: MN, WI, IA, ND and SD PAES Labs

Note: All other states, please contact your local TAI rep or TAI directly for customer service or access to local groups. 

This group is for teachers/supervisors/aides/job coaches of PAES Labs

in Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.


The purpose of this group is for supervisors of PAES Labs to have a place to ask questions, post ideas, share stories, or just be a lurker (you know who you are;). This is a closed group so only memebers can see it's content. All members can invite new members, but, we ask that you only invite professional colleagues (teachers, paras, etc). This group is not for parents or students.

Transitions Assessments & Curriculum at

Considering a PAES lab?

Read on for pricing/funding info, planning ideas & helpful tips!

Transitions Assessments & Curriculum at

Planning for PAES

If students experience PAES prior to their first job, they will be better prepared. In PAES, they will have found out what work skills they are good at, and what work skills they like to do. But also, and importantly they will have learned and practiced the positive work behaviors that are expected on a job site. Because of all of this, their first work experience will be planned based on their proven work skills, abilities and work strengths. Therefore, they will be positioned for a positive first work experience, that will set them up for work success in the future.   

Your PAES lab can be in a school or out in the community. Because PAES is recommended for Middle School and High School students when they are starting their transition planning, these are great choice locations. As an alternative, some PAES labs are in 18-21 program sites; however we want to catch students early with PAES, so often times if PAES is in the 18-21 program, the Middle School or High School students are transported to this site. And/or the districts often times "work backwards" getting their students in earlier and earlier each year, until they are getting their students through PAES in Middle or High School. In fact, some 18-21 programs are servicing 95% or more high school and middle school students in their PAES lab. Others eventually move their PAES lab physically to a program site where students served are younger as they work backwards in their transition programming; by eventually serving students at the beginning of their transition with PAES. Many districts see PAES as the starting point to transition planning. Here's a great idea: Do you have a city bus? If so, consider requiring your students to take the city bus to work in the PAES lab each day. They will not only learn and practice how to use the city bus to get to work, they will also be in the habit of taking a bus to work each day. You can also consider a site in your community, like in a business in your community that is looking to increase their employment pool, or in an alternative school property or you can lease a retail store or community site. Some PAES labs have their students walk to work by walking to the PAES lab each day. Either way, these options get the students accustomed to "going to work". Another advantage of a community site is the natural connection to local businesses for community job site placements for employment, work experiences, internships, short term volunteer work experiences, customized employment and of course, competitive employment.

No two PAES labs are alike. You will need at least 400 square feet, but some labs are as large as 1,000+ square feet. It is nice to either select a room with a sink, or install a sink in your space. Some programs use portable sinks.   Take a look at the variety of floor plans that have been used.

​PAES Lab Floor Plan Examples

These floor plans are listed in order by square footage. The actual PAES lab site layouts may vary from the floor plans as the PAES program supervisors make changes to their room layouts periodically. These plans are posted in order to help those looking to plan a PAES space of their own to reference.

Packages run between $30,000 and $37,000, and include everything you need to run the PAES jobs with the exception of some furnishings and PC's that are listed below which can add $0 - $3,000 to your budget depending on if you can source items from your school inventory. PAES comes in many large shipping boxes that are shipped on a couple of pallets. Packages INCLUDE having someone come to your site and unpack and set up your PAES lab, and conduct a 2-day in service on site training. (see tips for a successful in-service training below) You should also budget for $1,000 - $1,500 per year for consumable supply budget. This will be dependent upon how many students you run through, and if you decide to offer a school store for incentives.

Packages are recommended. They come with onsite set up, and 1 1/2 -day in service staff training.

  • The Standard PAES package
  • The Premium PAES package includes upgraded tools & equipment (Craftsman tools, as opposed to generic brand)

Most schools find these items from school storage, except stand up work tables and pegboard tool wall which are often ordered.

Tables & Equipment Storage you will need for your PAES Lab: 

  • 2-3 storage cabinets or book shelves, 1 business table, 1 check in station table, 1 computer table, 2 office type chairs, small table with no wheels, & chair for supplied sewing machine.
  • 3-5 Stand Up Work Tables - Schools either have/make tables
  • Pegboard Wall for Construction Hand Tools (pegboard/hooks) Typically installed after in-service training. (See Tool Storage Idea Sheet)
  • 2-5 PC Computers & Printer (black/white or color)
  • See below optional set up package; which includes: shelves to store your job boxes on, & a construction work bench.

You can purchase an Optional Set Up Package that includes: seven shelving units to store the job boxes on, and the construction workbench. You can either purchase the set up package from TAI, or you can source and set up these things on your own.  ​

If you choose to NOT order the set up package because you want to source things on your own.

Consider these options:

Option is to order one construction work bench direct through ULINE and set it up on your own.  Order 60" length particle board top packing table directly through ULINE. 

Hint: You can order additional benches to use in your lab as stand up work tables.

Option is to order 8 shelving units direct from Home Depot and set them up on your own. 

Hint:  The set up package comes with 7 shelves, but preference is to order 8 shelves. 

This is a Token Economy/School Store Set Up Program. 

This is optional programming to run alongside your PAES Lab

Districts have also written for transition readiness grants, local grants, used Carl Perkins funding, Comp Ed Funding, MA dollars, and of course IDEA general funds for purchasing PAES.  In some state, funding through VR and WIOA have also been used through an agreement for schools to provide PRE-ets to students.

Here are some example grants that have been written and approved for funding. 

District names have been deleted for privacy.  

PAES is a formal transition assessment of employment potential.  All staff running the PAES assessments should be officially trained in as PAES evaluators.  Typically you would send any staff that might work in the lab including teaching staff and paras and/or aides/job coaches.  This is teaching staff from many areas of SpEd, including mild/mod ID, high/low ASD, BD, LD, etc.  Many districts also invite their OT’s and/or DVR counselor to attend the training. Day one of training is 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.  Day two of training is 8 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

There is a published document that gives the PAES staffing recommendations for administrators

There is also a published document that is a self-assessment for your lab after it is up and running, but this also shows the criteria for a lab that is run with integrity.  This makes for a great planning document as well.  

PAES Lab Self Check Inventory

Some labs assign staff to be in the lab working all day, and rotate students through.  Some labs rotate staff through.  Most labs however run several "work shifts" (class periods) per day, which are at least one hour long, and sometime 1 1/2 hours long.  Some labs run 2 work shifts, some three, and even some very busy labs run four work shifts per day. It is recommended that students work in the PAES lab at least four days a week, but it is set up for five days a week, so five days a week is most typical. Students should be in the lab at a minimum of a semester.  Some students are in for a year, some for two years.    This is dependent on varying student abilities and scheduling. Either way, the goal always is to get them into the community for work or work experiences as soon as they are ready. If you have the staff and the space, you can run up to 10 students per work shift.  See above staffing recommendations for pupil/teacher ratios.  Smaller sized labs may only run 5-8 students per work shift.  If your students function at lower levels, this will require more staff than with students who function at higher levels, so fewer students working at the same time in this case is common, sometimes even 3-5 students if the students function at low levels. It is recommended that you have one assigned person to keep track of your lab...the "work rules" and also keep track of the "inventory" on a day to day basis.  There are many bits and pieces and equipment in a PAES lab, and you want to make sure you have someone detailed that can keep track of it all, and make sure the work shifts are run consistently.  Most labs like to assign one person to be in the lab consistently over the course of the day.  Some labs have an aide or job coach that are consistently in all day, and teachers rotate through.  Others have assigned staff that are in all day, and the students rotate through.  There are many scenarios.  Most importantly to have trained staff in your lab, including trained aides, para professionals or coaches.  This is because PAES is run completely different than a typical special education classroom.  In PAES, we back off and give the least amount of assistance and see what the students can do independently on their own.  There are many techniques and tips to help the students gain the independence for competitive employment that are covered and practiced in during the in-service training.  

PAES Teacher Resources

Current resources for PAES teaching staff in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa.

Local PAES Teacher Toolbox

(For PAES Teaching Staff in MN, WI, ND, SD, IA Only - Password Protected - ask Heidi for password This is a collection from over the years. The teacher made items are not validated or approved, but may be a useful resource for your lab. Over the years, teachers and aides have sent in items they have made for their lab, and this is a way to share the resources out in order to avoid duplication of efforts. If you have something you have made to share, please email it to Heidi at, and it will be put it in the teacher toolbox for others to share and use.

2020 PAES Lab Upgrade Now Available

  • If your lab is over 5 years old, has gotten a lot of use, has never been upgraded, or could just use some refreshing; you may consider purchasing this upgrade. No need to panic, it's just fine to keep using the version of PAES that you originally purchased if your budget doesn't allow, or if your lab is still working for you and your students.
  • All PAES labs that are shipped out in 2020, and all future PAES labs will be a 2020 version.
  • What is included in the 2020 upgrade?
  • Contact Heidi for pricing and ordering information:

How old is your PAES Lab?

Take a look at the Location and Year Purchased Maps

Minnesota PAES Labs

Wisconsin PAES Labs

North Dakota PAES Labs

South Dakota PAES Labs

Iowa PAES Labs - Please contact Heidi Johnson

PAES Timeline of Updates:

2007 - Computer/Technology Component was added to PAES
2012 Nov - PAES 8.3 scoring
2014 Oct - PAES 9.1 Revisions
2015 May - Computer Tech Revision 2015
2016 May - Workplace Skills Revision
2018 May - 2nd Edition
2020 July - 2020 Revisions and Video Training

2020 PAES IT Update Now Available

  • The IT 1-6 jobs have been updated and have a brand new website.
  • Get the IT Update for FREE: If you want to receive the files to print and laminate your own updated materials for free, email Susan at TAI to request these files Include your school name, city and state. Susan will assign your PAES lab a serial number, and then send you the requested files. Please be patient, as this may take a couple of days to receive your serial number and IT replacement files via email. The IT updates are a big part of the PAES 2020 update. If you choose to not purchase the 2020 update, but use the free IT replacement instead, the IT subtasks on your scoring software and subtask data collection books will not match up.
  • Option to order the IT update for a fee: If you would prefer to have TAI ship out the updated printed and laminated materials to you, see IT replacement price list. To order this replacement, make out a purchase order (PO) to TAI and email it to Again, The IT updates are a big part of the PAES 2020 update. If you choose to not purchase the 2020 update, but purchase only the IT replacement, the IT subtasks on your scoring software and subtask data collection books will not match up.

2020 PAES Training Materials Now Available

2020 PAES Video Staff Training Now Available

  • Introducing a new series of PAES videos intended for persons who evaluate employees, supervise or assist in the PAES lab.
  • Persons previously trained in person by an authorized PAES trainer are considered trained evaluators, but would benefit by going through the video series as a refresher training.
  • Videos can be watched remotely, and users can go at their own pace.
  • The 15 videos and review quizzes can generally be completed in less than 4 hours.
  • Each one year subscription includes the option for one trainee to complete the online Authorized PAES Evaluator Assessment to receive an Authorized PAES Evaluator Certificate which will be issued via email to the trainee upon gaining an assessment score of 100%.
  • One year subscriptions start at $125 and include one certificate. However, this login can be shared amongst other PAES and school staff, and the videos can be viewed together in groups either in person in your lab, or by using google hangout, zoom, or the like.
  • Want to know the price? If your lab is in MN, WI, ND, SD, or IA this is your price list: 2020 PAES Training Options Price Sheet If you are in a different state, please contact TAI or your sales rep for this information. This shows all training options including in person, and video training options and packages.
  • To order a training, make out a purchase order (PO) to TAI and email it to

Lakeland STAR School kicks off "First of it's kind".

A PAES work lab located within the local hospital in Woodruff, Wisconsin.

The Practical Assessment Exploration System - PAES is now available to the students at Lakeland STAR School/Academy, Lakeland Union High School and Middle School. The students "go to work" each day at PAES to the Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff, Wisconsin. The PAES work lab is located within the hospital to give students an integrated work experience. This is the first PAES of it's kind in the United States, by locating a PAES lab within the four walls of a business. Each day Lakeland STAR School/Academy students are going to work and discovering their work potential by experiencing and exploring a wide variety of individual jobs.

When the students arrive to PAES, they clock in and they “go to work” exploring in a different work area each day. 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 keeps track of the quality of each job the student attempts, as well as what type of assistance each student needs. They also track how each student learns best. Students time themselves while completing their assigned job tasks. All of this information is entered into a database that produces reports that help guide the students transition. For the students who need it, supports are given to enable them to perform job skills that otherwise they would not be able to do. The idea and hope is that these supports will transfer on the job as reasonable accommodations.

PAES was developed to prepare students for work, independent living, and/or post-secondary education. The individualized reports generated from PAES help guide the Lakeland STAR School/Academy students individual plans. The detailed PAES reports are not only helpful for the student, but also the helpful to the parents/guardians, care givers, teaching staff, case manager/worker, guidance counselor, and county and vocational rehabilitation services providers.

PAES at Southern Plains Educational Co-Op, Winnebago, Minnesota

Southern Plains Educational Cooperative and PAES making a difference in southern Minnesota.

Interview with Matthew Nielsen and TAI - Talent Assessment, Inc., the publisher of PAES.

Matthew Nielsen
Work Based Learning
Southern Plains Educational Cooperative

Matt Nielsen regularly sends in complementary comments about PAES to TAI, and Heidi Johnson, local TAI Midwest Representative. One day we asked Matt, would you be interested in an interview with TAI to share about your program in Winnebago, Minnesota? Matt graciously shared his thoughts and comments about PAES and how it is helping students at Southern Plains Educational Cooperative.

January 29th, 2018, Interview with Matthew Nielsen and TAI - Talent Assessment, Inc., the publisher of PAES.

Southern Plains Educational Cooperative and PAES making a difference in southern Minnesota.

TAI recently caught up with Matt Nielsen, the Work Based Learning teacher for the cooperative and asked him to share his experience with PAES.

TAI: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Matt. To begin, please tell us about yourself, your team and your mission.

Matt: My name is Matt Nielsen and I work for the Southern Plains Educational Cooperative which is headquartered in Fairmont, Minnesota. The cooperative administers special education programs for six school districts in southern Minnesota and also runs its own campus in Winnebago, Minnesota. Our PAES Lab is at the Winnebago building. We have a full time PAES supervisor, Stephanie Stefanske. Steph has visited other labs and she is passionate about the program and how it has such a positive effect on our students. As the Work Based Learning teacher, I know how well the PAES program works perfectly with our transitional goals for our students. My job is really directed towards preparing students for life outside of school and the PAES Lab provides an invaluable tool for students, parents and teachers in making transition choices.

TAI: How did you first learn about PAES?

Matt: The cooperative Director, Sarah Mittelstadt, invited me to tour a PAES Lab in Austin, Minnesota. After viewing several sessions we decided that PAES would provide great programming and assessment opportunities for our students.

TAI: Why did you purchase a PAES Lab?

Matt: As part of transitioning students and work-based learning, PAES provides not just an assessment tool, but also a diagnostic tool. It helps not just to identify what a student does well but also what they like. Students are not typically asked if they like what they’re doing in school but with PAES the instant feedback a student gives regarding task satisfaction is a key part of future career exploration and satisfaction.

TAI: What were your expectations for PAES and how is your Lab meeting them?

Matt: Generally, we expected, and somewhat sold to our school case managers, that PAES would provide them with good data which they like for their files. We did not anticipate the level of participation and enjoyment that the students would have for the program. Taking very enthusiastic students and combining their energy with the data has proven time and again that the data is accurate, usable, and personal to the lives of our students.

TAI: Did you consider solutions other than PAES and if so, what and why?

Matt: No, not to the best of my knowledge.

TAI: Please describe your PAES experience.

Matt: Let me describe what just happened at 9:41 a.m. on January 17, 2018 a student just finished SS-5 (Shop Saws). In this project he makes a 1x1x1 cube out of wood. the student added dots to make a die out of the cube. He came into the room excitedly and said, "Look what I just made!" And he meant those words: HE made it himself, reading the instructions and following procedures. This is the most common and satisfying element of the PAES experience. Students are learning the value of following directions for the sake of a positive outcome for themselves, and the satisfaction that comes from full accuracy in the effort. Daily, we see students who are surprising themselves with their performance and their outcomes. We are surprised by the reactions of students who do not succeed the first time. They are able to keep these failures in perspective and realize that doing something over is not a great penalty. They also realize that employers will want effort and accuracy as part of having a good employee. Every day we look forward to coming to the lab and seeing this exploration unfold.

TAI: Would you share a story about a positive experience a student has had with PAES?

Matt: I could share one about every student who has attended the lab. I will highlight a student who was very focused on being a fire fighter or police officer. Unfortunately, he does not have the intellectual ability to pursue these jobs. Through the PAES lab we all learned together (student, parents, teachers) that he has wonderful abilities and interests in the area of consumer/service, particularly with cooking aspects. His interest levels were consistently high, and his performance matched preference so he had clear aptitudes in this area. Because of the PAES lab he refocused what he wanted to do with his future, and is now working, very happily, in a grocery store bakery; weighing, measuring, and baking. All skills that were appreciated in the PAES lab.

TAI: Describe the effect PAES has on student outcomes?

Matt: While we are a little early in this determination, I think that the biggest effect is that as we discuss interest and transitions, we are doing so in a data driven way. And because we are able to address the aptitudes of the student, the intersection of interest and ability, we are providing great recommendations for student transition.

TAI: What kind of feedback have you received from parents?

Matt: Parents have consistently told us how the PAES lab is the first class since elementary school where their kids are coming home enthusiastic and happily discussing their day at school. Parents consistently ask if there is, sort of, a PAES Plus where the students can do more advanced exploration. Parents have been eager to see and understand the data related to their student. They are also eager to hear, because they understand it, their student's work habits and attitudes.

TAI: If you could tell your peers about PAES, what would you say to them?

Matt: With PAES you will find enthusiastic students, unbelievable support from Heidi Johnson and TAI, understandable and logical programming, manageable equipment, and flexible curriculum by design. On the topic of support, TAI and their representative in Minnesota, Heidi Johnson provide fast answers to our questions, excellent customer service if we have any equipment difficulties, and a general attitude of willingness to back the program and the products. In a time when companies have great customer service until the sale is made, TAI and Heidi really stand out.

TAI: What one thing could we do to improve your experience?

Matt: The ability to provide more mechanical, cooking, construction, assembly, and computer options would be great. The way TAI breaks things into tasks is second to none. If there was a flight of more advanced topics which we would be able to buy the materials would be great. Also, a list of actual or preferred suppliers for material replacement would be great.

TAI: Do you refer PAES to others?

Matt: Always! I take pride in being a small part of this program. I take community groups through the PAES lab so that they see what we are doing and how we do it.

TAI: Describe how it is to work with Talent Assessment, Inc.?

Matt: As noted above, it is a pleasure. The training provided by Heidi Johnson and TAI was well thought out and sensible. By beginning with a great training, I had the confidence to run this lab on a day to day basis. As we progressed, TAI and Heidi are quick to return calls and e-mails. They have probably heard the question a hundred times, but they always treated me with respect and even appreciation for contacting them. I was self-employed for 25 years. I took care of all of the purchasing for my office and became callused towards sales people and their promises of customer service after the sale. In my experience, TAI is the single most satisfying customer experience I have had. No hidden fees, e-mails are not ignored, I am not treated like the village idiot, and every interaction concludes with a reaffirmation of mutual appreciation. I am not sure I can think of any product or service that I recommend more than TAI and Heidi Johnson.

TAI: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Matt: I am tremendously proud to be part of this program. I have seen a lot of curriculum come and go. But this is such a sensible program and works so well for the goals of our special education program. I thoroughly believe that TAI and the PAES program will be noted as being a significant part of a more satisfying life for our students. I feel fortunate to be part of this program and to see the changes in our students and the daily smiles that I receive.

TAI: Thank you, Matt, for taking the time to share your experiences with PAES with us!

PAES helps students attain their goal for competitive employment.

Comments from local teachers about PAES

Transitions Assessments & Curriculum at

Two Student Success Stories from Osseo Area School District in Minnesota

First Story:

In December 2015, the Osseo School District hired Jess Kline to be the instructor for their recently purchased PAES Lab. In January of 2016 the first set of students began attending. One student in particular had a very dark and quiet personality to him. When this student would arrive he would never make eye contact, never engaged in interactions, and seemed to have no interest in doing any of the PAES work. For about two weeks he was not talking, he was doing jobs at a very slow rate, his interest was low for every job he did, and he was more interested in drawing on his arm than he was in the PAES Lab. Jess had created a “Wall of Fame” in the lab to recognize students that complete all 6 jobs in any of the PAES units. Jess would put their name on the wall and a tag under their name with the category they completed (i.e. WB 1 – 6). One day Jess was putting up some tags on the wall and this student took interest:

Student: “what are you doing?”
Jess: “I am putting up tags. This is the Wall of Fame, when you complete a job series I put a tag under your name”
Student: “Well I want my name up there”
Jess: “Well then you need to start completing more jobs”

From that moment on, the student took off like a rocket and blew away all of the other students. He almost completed every job between February and the end of the school year. The best part was this new goal of his to be on the wall spawned a feeling of success from having so many tags under his name and it totally blossomed his personality. After about a month he began making eye contact, engaging in conversations, and when he would enter the PAES Lab he would say “Good Morning” to the ESP and Jess. One of the coolest changes though was seeing him laugh at jokes and funny situations in the lab. After a while Jess started receiving emails from his teachers and case managers saying what in the world did you do with this kid, his whole mindset has changed. The student was a senior that year and the next Fall one of Jess’ co-workers ran into the student at a store and asked how he was doing and what he was up to. The student told the co-worker he was doing great and that he was going to school at a community college in Minneapolis for graphic design.

Thanks for sending in this great success story Jess!

Submitted by:

Jess Kline
Work Coordinator – Osseo Area Schools
CBVAT - PAES Lab Instructor
Timberland North V
7600 Boone Ave. N. Suite 72
Brooklyn Park, MN 55428
763-315-9776 Ext. 77140

Second Story:

Get out the Kleenex box. In 2018, Jess had a junior start in the PAES lab at Osseo Area Schools CBVAT. He was scheduled five days a week. At the beginning of the year the student had very poor attendance and would never call in and let us know when he wasn’t coming. By the end of the year he was 16 jobs short of completing all 264 jobs. The last couple months of the school year he had no unexcused absences and was always calling if he couldn’t make it. He was named our May employee of the month. In Fall of 2019, his case manager said he wanted to come back and finish the PAES Lab. He told his case manager the May employee of the month award he received was the first time in his life he had ever received an award or was acknowledge for an accomplishment of his. Since he is so close to finishing we have brain stormed and found other jobs for him to do. One day he does our payroll, one day he works in our store, one day he does custodial jobs around here, one day he does PAES, and the other day he works as a peer mentor in the Production Lab.

Thanks for sharing this tear jerker story Jess.

Submitted by:

Jess Kline
Work Coordinator – Osseo Area Schools
CBVAT - PAES Lab Instructor
Timberland North V
7600 Boone Ave. N. Suite 72
Brooklyn Park, MN 55428
763-315-9776 Ext. 77140

  • We have quit a lot of success in students using their skills learned in the PAES lab to obtain jobs. We have one who is working at a grocery store stocking shelves and bagging groceries. We also have 4 who now work at an assisted living facility and now one who will begin working at Subway! Not only is it the skills we teach, but the self esteem they develop through their accomplishments of the jobs! It is an awesome experience to be a part of.
  • I have a student working as a dishwasher at a restaurant. He was so turned off by seat work. He finally applied himself in the PAES lab. He has been working there for a year and a half.
  • I also have a student who is working in the local farm store, where he stocks shelves and carries out items for customers. He's been there for 3 years. He had a letter of recommendation from me from working in the PAES lab. His interviewer saw the letter and hired him on the spot.
  • I could share a positive experience or story about every student who has attended the PAES lab, but I will highlight a specific student who was very focused on being a fire fighter or police officer. Unfortunately, he does not have the intellectual ability to pursue these jobs. Through the PAES lab we all learned together (student, parents, teachers) that he has wonderful abilities and interests in the area of consumer/service, particularly with cooking aspects. His interest levels were consistently high, and his performance matched preference so he had clear aptitudes in this area. Because of the PAES lab he refocused what he wanted to do with his future, and is now working, very happily, in a grocery store bakery; weighing, measuring, and baking. All skills that were appreciated in the PAES lab.
  • I have 2 students working at restaurants after going through PAES, they learned how to work the cash register, fill out a time sheet, how to call in if they weren't able to make their scheduled time to work.
  • I have a couple of students working at their local grocery store stocking shelves or cleaning, learning how to sort with all the processing / production jobs or business/ marketing jobs. Just learning how to read a job card and follow step by step without asking many questions. They have also learned what they DON'T like and let us know.
  • We spend a lot of time on the consumer /service jobs and my students go home and are much more helpful in the areas of cooking/ measuring and even sewing. I get many phone calls from Parents and some case managers who tell me, PAES is their favorite class. We also work with money. Learning how to count change or just count money is very important. We make items with sewing they are able to take home or give for gifts, this way, they are repeating many jobs and are taking pride in their work. We also work hard on social skills which is a must, and we work on other behavioral issues that need addressing.
  • Working with the cash register has been helpful and high interest for students who want to work in some form of retail
  • My students and parents have stated that the standing for 75-90 minutes has been one of the best lessons that our students have learned in PAES Lab. (Note: According to PAES recommendations, students "employees" work while standing at counter level tables for any of the PAES jobs that would require standing while working out in the community)
  • Another level of learning from the PAES Lab is that students learn how to do job tasks in a specific manner, following specific directions.

I would say PAES lab jobs are a good way to prepare students for jobs. In my World of Work class, we have them do a mix of things during their class time-including PAES lab jobs. This mix of things gives them a great variety of vocational experiences and practice, as well as exposure to PAES lab jobs. This year I had two seniors move from the World of Work class (special education class) to an Internship at a job (gen. ed. class) at the semester & part of that was all the skills they had learned through the mix of experiences in World of Work class. Overall, I am thankful that some of the PAES jobs are in areas I'm not personally an expert in and could not provide them experiences in outside of those tasks.


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Copyright ® by Life Productions Author Judith D.
Swisher, PhD.