WorkKeys Exam Helping to Prepare Students for Good Jobs in Business

GOLDEN TRIANGLE REGION, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Columbus High School Principal Craig Chapman recently spoke about the WorkKeys exam, which seeks to help determine students’ readiness for work in local industry, entrepreneurship, and more. It is issued by the same company that administers the ACT test, and is taken alongside it by high school seniors. He remarked that, “Now we have so many students who are eager to be a part of this, they’re speaking about it. … Talking about, ‘What can I do? How can I be a part of this?'”

CHS students review practice questions for the WorkKeys exam – courtesy photo

CMSD Superintendent Cherie Labat said that recognizing workforce-ready skills in the modern day is just as important as assessing academic college readiness, especially in a heavily-industrialized area such as the GTR: “In a high school that doesn’t have the socio-economic background as our particular district, one in three students in America will go to college,” Labat said. “… In districts of poverty, that number may go from one in seven to one in 10. They don’t have that option and are not going to college, so what are we really preparing them for if they don’t have a trade, don’t have a skillset or an assessment that could open the door for an opportunity to higher wages and a better standard of living?”

“In the Golden Triangle area, we’re … blessed and inundated with a lot of industry,” said Lowndes County Career Tech Center Director Susan McClelland. “With that being said, I think it just helps children to be prepared to move right into the workplace …”

The WK exam is comprised of three sections: applied math (subjects such as geometry and the ability to calculate discounts); workplace documents (e.g. policies, letters and memos); and graphic literacy (reading of charts and interpreting data). The overall score is equivalent to whichever score on the three sections is lowest, thus encouraging students to re-take sections where they have fallen short. Intensive prep and practice sessions are provided to the students prior to the tests.

In the Starkville-Oktibbeha CSD, more and more students are expressing interest in the program, said Lenora Hogan, director of the district’s Millsaps Career and Technology Center: “In (the 2016-2017 school year), we had 68 students to take it,” Hogan said. “… This past year we had 153 to take it…Every year, after (students) leave, I’ll have them come back and say, ‘Man, Dr. Hogan, I wish I had taken the WorkKeys. Now I’m having to pay to take it because I want this job,'” she said.

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