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The “Career” Part of College and Career Readiness

The following blog is reprinted with permission from Advance CTE. The original posting can be found here.

Success after high school looks different for everyone. Increasingly, however, that success rests on additional postsecondary education or training beyond a high school diploma. As we have heard many times before, students must be ready for both college and career after graduation. Yet, in order to get there, students need to be equipped with reliable information about their readiness for both– regardless of the post-high school path they choose to pursue. We also know that educators need that same information to address skills gaps, accurately measure student learning, and calibrate program improvements.

For 60 years, we at ACT have been studying what is most essential for education and workplace success. Recently we’ve looked more closely at our data for students who took both the ACT college admissions exam and ACT WorkKeys assessments—a set of foundational skill, work-based assessments that lead to the National Career Readiness Certificate. In comparing the research-based benchmarks for each assessment, we found that the foundational skills required for “college readiness” and “career readiness” are in fact equally rigorous and essential to student education and workplace success.

However, we also know that skills are used differently in educational settings compared to the world of work. For instance: on the ACT, we might assess a student’s ability to read and understand a passage from Shakespeare. Yet with our WorkKeys assessments, we are measuring something different—how a student makes use of that reading skill and applies it in order to solve a workplace problem. In other words, measures of career readiness must include not only essential academic skills but also how those skills are applied in the context of a work environment in order to truly measure the “career readiness” of students.

For anyone who has spent time inside a CTE classroom, this is not a revelation. What students learn in school should prepare them to succeed in further education, in career, and in life. The extensive research foundation for our assessment solutions, based on actual workplace and postsecondary outcome data, further underscore this important point.

As states endeavor to reexamine their CTE systems and implement new state and federal laws, it will be increasingly important to integrate college and career readiness benchmarks—like those found in the ACT and WorkKeys— to ensure that students are able to make successful transitions to life after high school. By leveraging the ACT work readiness system, students of all ages are able to certify their foundational skills and understand with confidence the relevance of those skills to a host of career pathways.

Through research like this and through making such benchmark data freely available to practitioners on our website, ACT is doing its best to support CTE leaders and practitioners in meeting the goal of providing high-quality CTE programs and ensuring that all students are on the pathway to college AND career success after high school.

For more information and the full ACT Readiness Framework, please visit:

http://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/Ready-for-What-May-2018.pdf

ACT Career Pathway Benchmarks (published in 2015 and will be updated in fall 2019 for all 16 Career Clusters):https://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/CareerReadinessinUS-2015.pdf

ACT Work Readiness Benchmarks by O*Net Occupational Codes:http://profiles.keytrain.com/profile_search/?_ga=2.117505802.2073588000.1554240283-1916235549.1532011683

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ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Grounded in 60 years of research, ACT is a trusted leader in college and career readiness solutions. Each year, ACT serves millions of students, job seekers, schools, government agencies and employers in the US and around the world with learning resources, assessments, research and credentials designed to help them succeed from elementary school through career.

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