Workkeys: A better test than PACT?


In serving on the regional Workforce Investment Board, I get exposed to a lot of things in the arena of workforce development, including standardized testing.

Last week, I talked about the growing questions surrounding the PACT test, and promised further discussion, so I wanted to introduce my readers who are interested in education policy to WorkKeys.

WorkKeys is becoming a major tool for assessing workplace related skills, especially when it comes to selecting new employees and eligibility for promotions in technical and manufacturing jobs, which are in short supply in this state. This is the inevitable outcome of a process in which a high school diploma has become an ineffective measure of ones abilities and potential - employers are forced to find a better way to find out what someone is really capable of.

My board, which operates the main One Stop career center in the Charleston area, offers WorkKeys testing to help adults make themselves more marketable to potential employers.

WorkKeys was created by the folks at ACT, the college exam people. The test assesses test-takers on a wide range of skills:

  • Applied Mathematics (uses calculator/45 minutes)
  • Applied Technology (45 minutes)
  • Listening (audiotape presentation/ 40 minutes)
  • Locating Information (45 minutes)
  • Observation (videotape presentation/ Part 1: 30 minutes/ Part 2: 30 minutes)
  • Reading for Information (45 minutes
  • Teamwork (videotape presentation/ Part 1: 40 minutes/ Part 2: 40 minutes)
  • Writing (audiotape presentation/ 40 minutes)
But unlike the all-important PACT test, where our lives must be on hold and revolve around the testing and release of scores in a slow, annual cycle like the sun, WorkKeys scores are returned in days, and they are even posted in individual accounts online for test-takers and potential employers to review. Some states are even turning to WorkKeys as part of their high school exit exam criteria, or pushing for broad WorkKeys testing of high school students, to help assess career directions.

A test that is used nationwide, is respected by employers, can be graded in days, and could easily be implemented on a wide scale without mega-million dollar consulting fees ... that's exactly the kind of dangerous and subversive talk that would never see the light of day in South Carolina education policy.

10 Response to "Workkeys: A better test than PACT?"

  1. west_rhino 28/2/07 08:33
    But Earl, it wasn't invented here and the educrats don't yet know how to teach Workkeys or spin its results. The results being back in days means that tehy will be expected to finalize their reports, making them fair game for FOIA and it would be a change that they haven't planned a way to pervert...
  2. Anonymous 28/2/07 08:46
    all you do is tell lies and try to start trouble. don't you have a real job? try worrying about that, and maybe the relationships you've been in as well.
  3. Moye 28/2/07 15:44
    I am with WR on this one for sure.
  4. Anonymous 28/2/07 21:17
    amen to that. the system is broken and the only people who support it are those crooks who are cashing in on it.

    they're willing to sacrifice the children of this state for their fancy homes on lake murray - a place most of the students will never see, much less afford to live alongside.
  5. Anonymous 1/3/07 09:59
    just think, if we'd elected karen floyd, those boring, wasteful standardized tests would have been replaced by bibles. students would just learn to pray, curse islam and the pope, and be good little superficial boys and girls.

    just like the head queen herself.
  6. Anonymous 1/3/07 21:39
    well, we know jim rex has to pay back his consultant supporters somehow. letting them feast off a broken system is one easy way to do it.
  7. Anonymous 1/3/07 21:47
    you know how one can find the right-wing kool-aid drinkers? just go to earl's blog and you'll find them all gathered there to share lies, reinforce their paranoias, hate minorities, and of course, lick his boots.
  8. mg 3/3/07 15:06
    Incredible comments.
  9. Anonymous 28/3/07 11:00
    WorkKeys is a great tool for identifying what a potential worker (or existing one, of course)can do (emphasis on 'worker'). This assessment should NOT replace the PACT in our school system,since it won't adequately serve students who are going on to higher education (the math portion is about 7th grade level, tops, so it wouldn't serve students headed to college for technical careers). However, I do agree that PACT needs to be replaced with a testing system that the "rest of the world" uses, so we can compare "apples with apples" in assessing how good (or bad) OUR young people are doing. Teaching to the test is NOT what we need ... fundamentals is the name of teaching game. I work in a Adult Education facility and I see the high school dropouts. The problem is the YOUNG ones don't yet have a clue and are NOT motivated ... they're in adult education because somebody (legal system or grandmother) said they have to be. When they're older (and now can appreciate the benefits of education), they're way behind and have forgotten any fundementals that they may have learned in formal school (and they have "day" jobs, usually). We must find a way to motivate them while they're still in high school.
  10. Anonymous 15/5/08 09:56
    PACT is being replaced. Standardized testing is always going to have flaws, however.

    I hate it when our education system is compared to other states. We need national standards and a national test, if comparisons are going to continue to be made. I doubt we would remain as the 48th state in education should this happen....but it won't. Basing comparisons on SAT scores (which is the test MOST students take here, while many ostudents in other states take other tests not included in the comparison, is ridiculous.

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