Using the Career Decision-Making System-Revised to Enhance Students' Career Development

By O'Shea, Arthur J.; Harrington, Thomas F. | Professional School Counseling, April 2003 | Go to article overview
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Using the Career Decision-Making System-Revised to Enhance Students' Career Development

O'Shea, Arthur J., Harrington, Thomas F., Professional School Counseling

In this period of standards-based educational reform, much attention has been focused on the educational achievement of high school graduates. In the rush to achievement testing, schools may have lost sight of the 25 percent to 30 percent high school dropout rate over the past quarter century (Barton, 2002). Barton noted that many students, both graduates and dropouts, are deficient in career-planning skills as they enter the labor market or transition to postsecondary education. In the survey of high school counselors' career development competencies, Barker and Satcher (2000) found that counselors tended to overlook the need to implement career development programs, resulting in inadequate workplace training skills. They also noted that work-bound students received minimal counselor attention. In light of these findings, schools must provide career planning services to all students, including those who will be immediately entering the job market, with or without diploma.

Dahir (2001) presented the rationale, developmental process, content, and implications for the National Standards for School Counseling Programs (Campbell & Dahir, 1997). She noted that the National Standards are designed to guide the development of the program content for student growth and achievement in the academic, career, and personal-social domains. There are three standards concerning career development:

* Standard A: Students will acquire the skills to investigate the world of work in relation to knowledge of self and to make informed career decisions.

* Standard B: Students will employ strategies to achieve future career goals with success and satisfaction.

* Standard C: Students will understand the relationship between personal qualities, education, training, and the world of work. (Dahir, 2001, p. 324)

The fact that career development is given such emphasis in the National Standards is welcome to professionals who feel that at times career issues have been overshadowed by an emphasis on personal counseling. This is not to deny the importance of the latter, but school counselors should not forget that over the past 30 years the most common complaint about school counseling services has been a failure to supply assistance in the career decision-making process (Herr & Cramer, 1988; Hurley & Thorp, 2002; Prediger, Roth, & Noeth, 1973; Prediger & Sawyer, 1985). Harrington and O'Shea (1976) sought to address the issue of dissatisfaction with career counseling services by developing a system for Career Decision Making (CDM) which had as one of its goals the enhancement of students' career development.

This article seeks to demonstrate how the Career Decision-Making System-Revised (CDM-R; Harrington & O'Shea, 2000a) has the capacity to serve as a system based on solid research to assist students in developing a significant number of the career competencies of the National Standards for School Counseling Programs. The relationship between the CDM-R and the National Standards will be affirmed.


The CDM-R is a system, first published in 1976, that combines an assessment of interests, work values, subject matter preferences, and self-estimates of abilities with biennial updates of career information. It has had a number of revisions, the most recent in 2000, to keep the instrument as current as possible with a rapidly changing world of work. The paper-and-pencil CDM-R has two levels, one, with a fourth-grade reading level, designed to assess the vocational interests of the young, typically those in middle school and the more challenged readers of all ages. The other level, with a seventh-grade reading level, is more appropriate for more developed persons of all ages. Administration time varies from about 30 to 45 minutes. In addition, the CDM-R has software so that students can complete the inventory on a computer and receive an interpretive report about occupations matching their interests, values, and abilities.

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Using the Career Decision-Making System-Revised to Enhance Students' Career Development


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