ACT goals and workforce readiness.

Dear Parents,

I think many parents are aware that our district goals are focused on improving our ACT scores, but having talked with several parents recently, it also appears that we have not communicated well enough about how this goal is important for students who do not plan on going to college. Of course, when most people hear “ACT,” we naturally think about college admissions. In reality, our goals related to the ACT improvements are much more broad based than many may assume.
While our goals are written to be measurable–and thus, use ACT scores as that measurement–our ultimate goals are simply to increase our student’s college AND career readiness. The ACT will measure college readiness, and the ACT WorkKeys test will assess student readiness for the workforce. If you wish to learn more about the WorkKeys test, you can find considerable information at act.org/workKeys. In a nutshell, the WorkKeys division of ACT has studied thousands of jobs across industries to identify critical skills fundamental for success in these positions. WorkKeys is ACT’s job skills assessment system measuring the “real-world” skills that employers believe are critical to job success. WorkKeys is used by businesses, and workforce development groups to find, hire, train, promote, and retain qualified employees.

The Department of Public Instruction has told us that the three WorkKeys tests that will be given in Wisconsin to all high school juniors beginning in ’14-’15 will be: Reading for Information, Applied Math, and Locating Information from charts and graphs. Students will be able to earn certificates to potentially present to employers in the interview process that will provide evidence of their abilities and readiness for success. Certificates can be earned at bronze, silver, goal and platinum levels based on the student’s results on the WorkKeys test.

Possibly the most important aspect of the ACT results for us as educators in striving to better prepare students for both college and career readiness is that we can give students highly aligned assessments from 7th grade to 11th grade, and this will provide us a great deal more clarity about each student’s progress in learning, where their strengths are and what areas need more attention. The Explore and Plan components of the ACT Family of assessments will be called Aspire beginning next year. Aspire results at all grade levels will provide predictive information about how students will do on both the ACT and WorkKeys tests, so we will know if students are on-track toward their goals after high school. These measures, as well as optional classroom interim assessments four times per year, will provide specific information about each student’s learning so that if a student’s progress is falling behind their goals and career plans, we can take steps to provide more support and intervene with additional efforts to get them back on schedule.

As we become more and more skilled in using learning data, our goals will evolve to have a greater focus on producing expected, or greater than expected, growth each year for a high percentage of our students.

If you have any questions about this topic or related issues, please do not hesitate to give me a call at 920-564-2346 x1001.

Scott