For Immediate Release: February 25, 2021
JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) voted today to open public comment on the addition of the ACT WorkKeys assessment and a recognized career pathway or industry certification to the accountability measure evaluating how schools and districts prepare students for college and the workforce.
ACT WorkKeys, a national assessment that measures foundational skills required for success in the workplace, would be included in the college and career readiness indicator in the state’s accountability system that assigns letter grades to schools and districts. Previously, student performance at the national benchmarks in math and reading or English on the ACT was the sole indicator of college and career readiness. The additional career preparation measure would recognize students who score at the Gold or Platinum performance level on ACT WorkKeys or who score at the Silver level and earn an industry certification in a technical field or complete a career pathway in high school.
“Mississippi’s career and technical education programs help students increase academic achievement through relevant hands-on instruction and help them acquire marketable skills,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “Achieving the Gold performance level on the ACT WorkKeys or combining a Silver performance level with a career pathway or industry certification are strong indicators students will graduate prepared for a career."
The Accountability Task Force (ATF) began looking at the inclusion of ACT WorkKeys in the accountability system in March 2020. Although it considered many options, the ATF recommended adding ACT Work Keys as an alternative to ACT at the Silver level with no requirement for completion of a career pathway or industry certification.
The Commission on School Accreditation on Dec. 10 approved unanimously a proposal from the Mississippi Department of Education to require a WorkKeys Silver level student performance and completion of an industry certification or pathway to ensure comparable rigor between ACT and ACT WorkKeys in the accountability model. The proposal was based on feedback from the ATF, discussion within the MDE, and in consultation with the Center for Assessment and the MDE’s Technical Advisory Committee.
The SBE today accepted MDE's proposal and added the option to allow a Gold- or Platinum-level WorkKeys score to count on its own in the career readiness indicator. Following a public comment period, the new indicator would go into effect in the 2021-22 school year.