Harrison Middleton University

ACT WorkKeys: ACT National Career Readiness Certificate

ACT WorkKeys: ACT National Career Readiness Certificate

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November 13, 2020

Thanks to Jeff Cohen, HUMSCI Instructor, for today’s post. This is part of the series Our Mission Extends Beyond Us.

The mission of the International Commerce High School is to prepare adult high school students (16 years of age to 21 years of age) academically for occupational education, postsecondary education, social responsibility, employability, and lifelong learning.

Across the United States, ACT Work Ready Communities are improving the skills and work readiness of the workforce while giving area businesses an efficient, reliable way to identify skilled job candidates. These communities provide counties and states with actionable data and specific workforce goals to drive economic growth. Key to these communities is the ACT JobPro database and the National Career Readiness Certificate.

The ACT JobPro database is one of the largest job skills databases in the nation and can be linked with skill assessment data from the ACT WorkKeys database as well as employment supply and demand data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US Census Bureau, and the US Bureau of Economic Analysis – yielding important information on the jobs of today and tomorrow. The ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (ACT NCRC) is an assessment-based credential powered by the ACT WorkKeys curriculum. The ACT NCRC is widely used by employers, educators, workforce developers, and others with a stake in the success of the economy.

The ACT NCRC is awarded at four levels, (Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze) based on the scores achieved on the component assessments. These levels correspond to the skill requirements of ACT-profiled jobs in the ACT JobPro database. A platinum score indicates skills required for 99% of the profiled jobs. A gold score indicates the skills required for at least 93% of the profiled jobs. A silver score indicates the skills required for 69% of the profiled jobs. A bronze score indicates the skills required for 17% of profiled jobs. The ACT NCRC is a valuable work skills credential with the potential to improve career outcomes, assist students to succeed in a variety of career pathways, and a trusted indicator that can improve hiring, training or promotion decisions. More than 2.3 million National Career Readiness Certificates have been issued nationwide since the credential was introduced in 2006.

Since 2018, adult learners at the high schools have had the opportunity to complete the ACT WorkKeys curriculum in preparation for taking the ACT NCRC assessments. To date, almost 800 students have completed the assessments with 79% earning NCRC certificates at the silver level or higher. Almost 41% of these completers have scored at levels that have earned endorsement for college credit from the American Council on Education. A 2014 research article by ACT indicates “only 19% of individuals that earn an NCRC credential qualify at the Gold Level or higher”. Our high schools had 31% of our credential earners scoring at Gold or higher.

A recent study of young adults (ages 18-24) in New Mexico revealed the following NCRC credentials were earned as follows:

Bronze 28% New Mexico high school graduates typically test at this level
Silver 30% College graduates typically test at this level
Gold 4% Admission to competitive U.S. colleges occurs at this level.
Platinum 0% Less than 1% nationwide achieves Platinum

In comparison, for the 2018-2019 school years, International Commerce High School Students credential earners scored:

Bronze = 20%
Silver = 48%
Gold = 23%
Platinum = 8%

WorkKeys curriculum includes three courses; Applied Mathematics, Graphic Literacy and Workplace Documents. The courses are delivered via a personalized mobile-based learning management system. The platform delivers a meaningful learning experience and provides users with a customized study schedule and detailed instructional content. For each of these courses, the high school has designed a study guide to be completed and discussed with an Instructor. Inquiry-based instruction is the core pedagogy used at the high schools. In terms of methodology, the primary vehicle of inquiry-based learning is discussion, which uses analytical, interpretive, and evaluative questions to explore multiple levels of meaning in a text. Instructors formulate and ask questions that guide a collaborative search for meaning, and in its best applications, students and instructors read and learn together toward higher and higher levels of understanding.

The ACT WorkKeys curriculum helps individuals build the essential career-relevant skills needed for learning, personal development and effective job performance. The high schools operate certified NCRC testing centers on campus which allow students to complete assessments and earn the credential onsite.

To read more from the Our Mission Extends Beyond Us series, visit hmu.edu/hmu-blog.

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