UNION COUNTY — Nearly 90 percent of 11th grade students at Union County High School are ready for the workforce according to the results of an assessment designed to test their career readiness.
Cindy Langley, Director of District Accountability for the Union County School District, announced Wednesday that 87.8 percent of all 11th grade students at Union County High School passed the “WorkKeys®” career readiness assessment exam. She said the percentage of UCHS students passing the exam and earning their WorkKeys® credentials was close to the statewide average.
“We are excited that 87.8 percent of our students demonstrated work readiness in the first statewide administration of ACT WorkKeys®, a job skills assessment measuring ‘real-world’ skills that employers believe are critical to job success,” Langley said. “All 11th grade students in public schools in South Carolina took WorkKeys® tests in the spring of 2015 in the three areas required to earn a National Career Readiness Certificate: Applied Mathematics, Locating Information, and Reading for Information.
“Students may earn certificates at one of four proficiency levels — Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum, she said. “The percentage of students earning credentials at Union County High School is just shy of the state average of 87.9 percent.”
Langley said that at UCHS 255 students earned certificates in each of the following areas:
• Bronze: 36.9 percent at UCHS; 25.1 percent, statewide (Score of level three or higher on all exams, which indicates a student has the necessary foundational skills for 16 percent of the jobs in the WorkKeys database.)
• Silver: 36.5 percent at UCHS; 40 percent statewide (Score of level four or higher on all exams, which indicates a student has the necessary foundational skills for 67 percent of the jobs in the WorkKeys database.)
• Gold: 14.1 percent at UCHS; 22.1 percent statewide (Score of level five or higher on all exams, which indicates a student has the necessary foundational skills for 93 percent of the jobs in the WorkKeys database)
• Platinum: 0.4 percent at UCHS; 0.8 percent statewide (Score of level six or higher on all exams, which indicates a student has the necessary foundational skills for 99 percent of the jobs in the WorkKeys database.)
Langley said the average scores for each test are:
• Applied Mathematics: 75.7 at UCHS; 77.4, statewide
• Locating Information: 76.9 at UCHS; 77.6, statewide
• Reading for Information: 78.0 at UCHS; 78.8, statewide
The results of the WorkKeys® tests in each school district and statewide were released this week by the South Carolina Department of Education. In announcing the results, the SCDE stated that they indicate “a student’s readiness for foundational workplace skills, and many employers use the results to choose qualified job applicants for open positions.” It further states that South Carolina, along with Alabama, Michigan, and Wisconsin require WorkKeys® testing of all students in a particular grade.
The announcement further states that “one-fourth of all districts had 91 percent or more of its students earn a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum National Career Readiness Certificate. Approximately 37 percent of high schools had over 91 percent of its students earning the readiness certificate, an important step for young people preparing to further their education, training, or careers.”
Employment Oversight Committee Executive Director Melanie Barton said that the committee was pleased with the results of the exam.
“The Education Oversight Committee is extremely pleased to see the results of the first WorkKeys® administration of 11th graders,” Barton said. “These young people are now armed with information that can help them, their families, and potential employers make decisions about their future.”
Barton pointed out that the data is an opportunity to focus on students who are not on a career-ready path. She said school districts are encouraged to provide remediation to students this year and re-assess with WorkKeys® prior to graduation.
“At a minimum, we all have a responsibility to make certain that these students can earn a living wage and become productive contributors to our communities,” Barton said. “The Governor and the General Assembly have successfully recruited high paying, high tech jobs to this state. We in education have to prepare students for these jobs in South Carolina and elsewhere.”
Langley said that those students who did not pass and are not on a career-ready path, may continue to improve their skills through online career-ready activities which they can access online at home or at school.
The announcement states that Act 155 of 2014 eliminated HSAP, the high school exit exam assessment, and instead required all students in grade 11 to take WorkKeys®, as well as a college readiness assessment, which was ACT, last year. By law, the goal is to administer assessments that can: “(1) assist students, parents, teachers, and guidance counselors in developing individual graduation plans and in selecting courses aligned with each student’s future ambitions; (2) promote South Carolina’s Work Ready Communities initiative; and (3) meet federal and state accountability requirements.”