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The Career Occupational Preference System

Sarah Callihan
SAA 6640
March 20, 2015

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The COPS system provides a comprehensive assessment package that allows the
profession and the student to investigate their interests and abilities in order to locate potential
career paths. This system is essentially comprised of three measurements: COPS, CAPS and
COPES. COPS stands for Career Occupational Preference System and is made up of five
different interest inventories for different reading levels and age groups. CAPS is an acronym for
Career Ability Placement Survey and measures skills that can be transferred to certain
occupations. COPES is a Career Orientation Placement Evaluation Survey that utilizes a variety
of scales to match activities and culture. This system contains fourteen career clusters that each
of these measurements combined utilize for the student. These clusters are as follows: Science
Professional and Skilled, Technology Skilled, Consumer Economics, Outdoors, Business
Professional and Skilled, Clerical, Communication, Arts Professional and Skilled, Service
Professional and Skilled. Within each of these clusters, there are branches that lead to either
subsets or to careers that may be of interest if the students inventory scores are highest in that
category. The cost for this assessment package is $22 for a sample set with the self-scoring
materials costs between $3 and $5. There is also a web-based system that can be used that allows
for instant scoring. This system costs $212.50 for the starter kit and 25 credits which is the
minimum purchase required. The target population for each of these inventories varies from
grades 6 to 12 and college aged students as well as adults who are outside these categories.
The COPS assessment, or Career Occupational Preference System, provides an arena for
students to investigate different occupations, allows for individual career counseling for both
students and adults as well as a method to provide vocational advising for companies. This
assessment is geared towards 7th-12th grades, college students as well as adults and is comprised

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of five different assessments. Each of these assessments are written at a different reading level.
The interest inventory is at a seventh grade reading level as well as standards for high school and
college. Within these groupings there are also different gender roles for the inventory. The
professional level evaluation is directed for those high school students who have decided that
they are going to college, adults and college students. It is more for professional exploration
rather than vocation in that it may assist with decisions regarding college majors, career issues
and indecision. The difference between this assessment and the other COPS versions is that
while the career clusters are the same the sub-clusters are different. The COPS-R inventory is
simpler and written at a sixth grade reading level so that it can be more accessible. The COPS II
is used for middle school students or less motivated high school and is a checklist to assist them
with starting to think about their future careers. Finally the Picture Inventory is one that instead
of reading the different lists to determine their career interests gives the student the opportunity
to choose a picture instead. The costs of the self-scoring materials range from $18 for 25
booklets to approximately $600 for 500 booklets depending on which version of the assessment
is being conducted. The inventories are also available in Spanish as well as English. This allows
for a larger population of students that can be targeted to begin career planning.
CAPS, or Career Ability Placement Survey, is an all-inclusive examination that takes uses
eight different assessments and places them into the previously mentioned career clusters. This
survey can be used for 8th-12th grade students, college as well as adults who are in a vocational
program. The scores are also compared to what other students at the same grade level are able to
accomplish. The students are then made aware of which occupations match their abilities best
and which ones will require more effort and preparation if those are ones that they are interested
in pursuing. The eight parts that are used are as follows: mechanical reasoning, spatial relations,

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verbal reasoning, numerical ability, language usage, word knowledge, perceptual speed and
accuracy and finally manual speed and dexterity. Each part of this assessment takes five minutes
to complete and fifty minutes to score the entire survey. The purpose of CAPS is to assist with
the development of skills and future development. The counselor does not have to use all eight
pieces of this assessment and it can be split up to only use a certain section. The self-scoring
book that contains all eight components ranges from $105 to $1,317 depending on quantity and
the interpretation guides are sold separately. The cost of the interpretation guides ranges from
$18 to $289. There is also the ability to purchase the materials in Spanish.
COPES, or Career Orientation Placement and Evaluation Survey, is for middle school
youth, college students and adults. It takes about 30 minutes to complete and 15 minutes for selfscoring to be completed. The self-scoring book must be bought along with the interpretation
guide for this assessment. The cost of the self-scoring manual ranges from $18.50 to $307
depending on how many booklets are needed. The interpretation guide and profile ranges from
$7.50 to $102.00. This assessment measures the values of the individual in order to assist with
career advising. It takes the values and places them on eight scales. These scales are the
following: investigative vs. accepting, practical vs. carefree, independence vs. conformity,
leadership vs. supportive, orderliness vs. flexibility, recognition vs. privacy, aesthetic vs.
realistic, and finally social vs. reserved. Utilizing these scales, the counselor can examine them in
conjunction with the career clusters to better connect students and other adults with areas that
complement their values systems for a more holistic viewpoint. It also provides an opportunity to
see how the students belief system works to correspond to a career path. While these
assessments assist their students discover their career path, research has uncovered some
weaknesses within this system.

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According to Albanese (2001), one of the weaknesses of the entire system is that the
gender norms involved were last updated in 1988. If this inventory is to be valid then the
researchers need to modernize the COPS system. In this review, Albanese states that the
consistency reliability factor is .89 and the test reliability is .94 which is good but just because
the system is reliable does not make it valid. Something that was also mentioned was that the
instrument does not report ethnic differences in the decisions for different career objectives. If
these were made apparent than the reliability score would be better and the assessment would
also be more valid. While these are a couple of major weaknesses, there were a couple of
strengths as well. These strengths were that this is a well-rounded system that allows students
and adults from age 12 on work on and begin career exploration. Also the career clusters are very
detailed on which careers are included and combined with each of the assessments in this system,
assist people make a well-informed decision.
I was not able to find many critiques of this assessment nor was I able to actually
complete the assessment without paying for it. While researching this assessment, the strengths
that were noted included the reach of the evaluations. If counselors start career exploration at the
earliest age possible than there might be a greater possibility that these students would continue
their education.

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Reference
Albanese, M. (2001). Review of the Career Occupational Preference System--Professional Level Interest
Inventory. Mental Measurements Yearbook 14.