Tests, More Tests, and Job Readiness

“The National Career Readiness Certificate is a portable, evidence-based credential that measures essential workplace skills and is a reliable predictor of workplace success.”

That’s straight from ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) website.

You know about ACT from high school. Mississippi high school students take the ACT test to get into college and get scholarships. It’s the door opener for higher education; the door closer for those with low scores.

Why do colleges require the ACT (or its yankee counterpart the SAT)? Because they found high school diplomas virtually worthless in predicting student readiness for higher education.

Guess what? Employers found out the same thing. High school diplomas are virtually worthless in predicting student readiness for most jobs.

So, ACT developed its NCRC to be the door opener, or closer, for jobs.

The NCRC assessment measures a person’s ability to apply mathematics, locate information, and read for information. This would be the 21st Century version of the three Rs – Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic.

“Employers need reliable ways to measure foundational skills to ensure they are hiring the most qualified, trainable candidates,” says ACT.

You thought all our thoroughly tested high school graduates could do this?

Nope.

That’s why ACT’s workplace assessment is flourishing.

Mississippi has implemented NCRC assessment as a core component of its workforce training system. The Mississippi Community College Board touts the following:
• “For employers, the CRC offers a reliable means of determining whether a potential employee has the necessary literacy, numeracy and problem solving skills to be job ready.
• “For job seeker, the CRC serves as a portable credential that can be more meaningful to employers than a high school degree or a résumé citing experience in a different job setting.”

There must be some Murphy’s Law corollary working here. We load up K-12 students, particularly high school students, with more and more tests to tell us if they’re learning anything. Indeed, teachers complain how much time No Child Left Behind tests, required subject matter tests, NAEP, and other tests take away from learning.

Perversely, the high school diploma continues to mean little to colleges and employers. Graduates still have to take the ACT (or placement tests) to get into college. More often now, they must take the NCRC assessment to get a job.

So, when do high school students and traditional college students get introduced to this vital NCRC assessment?

They don’t. With some exceptions, Mississippi only includes them in its non-credit workforce training programs. We remain in the “discussion stage” about using the NCRC in schools and colleges.

Guess what? The O’Toole Corollary of Finagle’s Law, which is a corollary to Murphy’s Law, says “the perversity of the universe tends towards a maximum.”

Yep.

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