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Alaska Career Ready FAQs

1. What is the Alaska Career Ready Program?

• It is a statewide program to ensure that Alaska students and job-seekers have the basic, or foundational, skills required by post-secondary education and virtually all careers.
• If a student or job-seeker does not have the required foundational skill levels, the program provides training that is directly targeted to those skills.
• In addition, the program provides a way for students and job-seekers to document their foundational skills by earning a "National Career Readiness Certificate."

Alaska Career Ready is one piece of what it takes to be successful in a career.

2. What are the foundational skill areas addressed by this program?

• 1) Applied Math, 2) Reading for Information, and 3) Locating Information. These skill areas are required, in varying levels, by approximately 90% of the jobs ACT has analyzed through its WorkKeys® job profiling system over the last dozen years.

3. Why do we need this program?

• To give Alaska students and job-seekers 1) knowledge of the skill levels required for entry into careers and post-secondary training; 2) a way to increase their skill levels, and 3) a way to demonstrate to an employer, apprenticeship program, technical school, college, university, or other training provider, that they have mastered the basic foundational skills required by virtually all careers and post-secondary programs.

4. Who are the program partners?

• The Alaska Career Ready program is administered by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (EED) and the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD).

5. What is a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC)?

• The NCRC is a credential awarded to an individual based on the results of three WorkKeys assessments: Applied Math, Reading for Information, & Locating Information. (The WorkKeys system is a product of ACT, Inc.)
• The NCRC is a nationally-recognized, validated, portable documentation of foundational skills. It uses a common language and measurement system to communicate 1) the basic skill levels necessary for careers & post-secondary training, and 2) the skill levels a person actually has, based on objective, standardized skill assessments.

6. How will I know if my skills are high enough before I take the assessments?

• All Alaska K-12 public schools and designated DOLWD sites have free access to KeyTrain/Career Ready 101 tutorial software, which includes a user-friendly online diagnostic tool that quickly estimates individuals' current skill levels.

7. What can I do to improve my skills?

• Use the free KeyTrain/Career Ready 101 tutorial software, which is available free of charge to all Alaska public schools and at all Alaska Job Centers.

• The lessons are web-based, individualized, self-paced, available from any computer with Internet access, and specifically targeted to the skills measured by WorkKeys assessments.
• The lessons are delivered in a work-related, applied context.
• The curriculum supports and enhances existing curriculum
.

8. Does the Alaska Career Ready program include a career information component?

• ACT provides free access to job profiles on its website at http://www.act.org/cgi-bin/workkeys/occuprof/certificate/crc_lookup.cgi?SITE=wked&LETTER=a.

• The KeyTrain/Career Ready 101 program allows the user to search through hundreds of occupational profiles and see WorkKeys skill levels and other information for each occupation. It also has ready-made instructor lessons and handouts that could be used in a career information class.

9. What regulations have been adopted by the State Board of Education?

• The State Board adopted regulations that require 11th graders and permit 12th graders in all Alaska public schools to take proctored assessments in the areas of Applied Math, Reading for Information, and Locating Information.  The regulations went into effect with the 2010-2011 school year.

10. Who is eligible to earn a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC)?

• Anyone who takes the WorkKeys assessments at a public high school or a designated Job Center and who earns a minimum of Level 3 scores on the three WorkKeys assessments.

11. What is the process for earning a National Career Readiness Certificate?

• Complete KeyTrain/Career Ready 101 software placement tests.
• Increase your skills by using the tutorial lessons.
• Complete the three designated WorkKeys assessments at your high school or Job Center.
• Receive a National Career Readiness Certificate if you score at least Level 3 on all three tests.

12. For those students who take more advanced math, will WorkKeys measure their skills? If not, will another assessment option be available for students, e.g., college placement tests which measure from elementary algebra up to precalculus?

WorkKeys Applied Math is not an achievement test, and it is not divided into topics such as Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, etc. It is an assessment of how well a person can apply mathematical skills that are needed in workplace situations. Some of the math skills at Level 7 Applied Math (the highest WorkKeys Applied Math level) include basic statistical concepts, non-linear functions, and volumes. For a complete list of the skills assessed at each level of WorkKeys Applied Math, see http://www.act.org/workkeys/assess/math/levels.html.
(For WorkKeys skills in Reading for Information: http://www.act.org/workkeys/assess/reading/levels.html)
(For WorkKeys skills in Locating Information: http://www.act.org/workkeys/assess/locate/levels.html)

Every college or university chooses its own placement test. Prospective students will need to contact the college or university of their choice to find out what placement or entrance tests are required and accepted.

13. This initiative does not address soft skills—getting to work on time, getting along with others. These are the skills employers most often complain employees don’t have and the main reason employees are fired. Will similar resources be made available to address these employability skills?

This initiative addresses foundational skills employers are telling us they require of entry-level employees, specifically Applied Math, Reading for Information, and Locating Information. The WorkKeys foundational skill assessments do not include assessments for soft skills. However, there are soft skill training components, such as Work Habits, Teamwork, and Listening, included in the KeyTrain/Career Ready 101 tutorial software, which is available to schools and DOLWD sites under this project. These lessons are a good resource to begin teaching soft skills. Other efforts include the DOLWD’s Youth First Initiative, Construction Academies, Youth Career Guides in some schools, youth interns for work experiences, YES (Youth Employability Skills), and individual school district programs for assessing and reporting soft skills. These types of behaviors must be taught and observed over time and in different situations, such as school and the workplace.

14. Will the WorkKeys assessment replace the HSGQE?

At this time, there are no plans to replace the HSGQE or any of the SBAs with any of the Alaska Career Ready components. At least two other states, Illinois and Michigan, require two WorkKeys assessments as part of their high school graduation testing requirements. At least three other states, Florida, Wyoming, and Kentucky, are offering WorkKeys assessments to high school students on an optional basis, in some cases as one criteria for scholarship qualification.

Keep in mind the WorkKeys assessments need not be administered by credentialed staff, as other tests do. However, the assessments are nationally standardized and do need to be proctored. The three WorkKeys assessments will take a total of about 3 hours, one hour for each component: Reading for Information (RI), Applied Math (AM), and Locating Information (LI).  The regulations do not require any minimum score as a graduation requirement.

15. An important element of helping students prepare for work and post-high school training is career guidance, but there is nothing in this initiative to provide career guidance staff or resources to help students understand themselves and careers that would fit them.

We know that career guidance is a big area of need in our schools. While this initiative does not provide any career guidance staffing, it does provide another resource for teachers, counselors, advisors, and administrators to use when they talk to students about careers. The entire concept is a linkage of school and careers. Specifically, the tutorial software has a career information component that shows the direct relationship between occupations and specific WorkKeys skills and levels required for success and advancement in that career. Other career guidance resources are available through the Alaska Career Information System (AKCIS), which is now available to all schools, as well as all Alaskans, at no charge.

16. How are we getting the word out to parents and the public?

We have developed outreach and educational materials for a variety of groups. We give informational presentations to industry councils, post-secondary staff, school district staff, Alaska employers, chambers of commerce, economic development councils, and the Alaska Workforce Investment Board.

17. How are you getting feedback from the public?

You may contact us via email, phone, fax, or mail to:

Krista Jacoby
Phone 907-465-6410 or Fax 907-465-3240

Email: Krista.Jacoby@alaska.gov

18. How will you engage industry to ensure strong support?

DOLWD is providing outreach to Alaska business and industry about using WorkKeys skills and the Career Readiness Certificate. We have several employers and apprenticeship programs who have had job profiles performed for some of their jobs and are using the NCRC in their hiring process.

19. Who will use the data and who will have access to the data?

WorkKeys: DOLWD and EED will compile aggregate data on the number of students and adults taking the WorkKeys assessments and the level of certificates earned (bronze, silver, gold, and platinum). These data will be posted on the two departments’ websites as the project moves along. We will not publish any personally identifiable information such as names and individual scores. Individuals’ test scores will be available only to the examinee, the test administrator, and to the state. Otherwise, scores are confidential and can only be released by authorization of the individual who took the test.

KeyTrain/Career Ready 101: Results from use of the tutorial software are available to each individual learner and to system “managers” such as teachers, case managers, principals, employment counselors, etc. A system “manager” will have access only to his/her students’ or clients’ records, i.e., a school principal will be able to see the progress of students at that school but will not be able to access the records of students at other schools or districts. There will be a statewide administrator from EED and one from DOLWD who will have access to all users’ data.

20. What is the level of funding allocated for this project?

The Department of Education has secured general fund money for the WorkKeys program. The Department of Labor uses a variety of sources for its funding.

21. How can students/clients with disabilities access the courseware and the WorkKeys assessments?

For WorkKeys, ACT has guidelines for testing accommodations. Please visit this webpage for more information.

The tutorial software has several tools to assist learners, such as an audio track that will read all lessons aloud, a Spanish translation, and compliance with JAWS software.

22. How can a student or job seeker use his/her WorkKeys scores or NCRC?

There are several ways an individual may use his/her WorkKeys scores, such as:

A. Qualify for an Alaska Performance Scholarship - Students entering a career and technical education certificate program can use WorkKeys scores of 5 each in applied mathematics, reading for information, and locating information [note that curriculum and GPA requirements also apply]. See http://www.aps.alaska.gov for more information.

B. Qualify for an Apprenticeship Program - for example, the Alaska Operating Engineers Union requires apprenticeship applicants to have a minimum Silver NCRC, and AJEATT Inside Wireman Apprenticeship Program in Anchorage accepts WorkKeys Applied Mathematics Level 6 as an option to meet the math requirement.

C. Use as a credential when applying for a job - for example, the State of Alaska, NANA Management Services, GCI, BP, and other employers recognize the NCRC.

D. Show your WorkKeys scores and NCRC on your ALEXsys (Alaska Labor EXchange system) profile - employers are able to search for candidates based on WorkKeys scores or certificate levels.


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Contact Shari Paul at the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development
shari.paul@alaska.gov or 907-465-6535

Contact Kim Kolvig at the Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development
Kimberly.Kolvig@alaska.gov or 907-465-
5948

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