Clarendon 3 leads tri-county area on career readiness test

Ready to Work 11th-grade assessment with soft skills section used for 1st time

BY BRUCE MILLS
bruce@theitem.com
Posted 10/3/18

Clarendon School District 3 students based in Turbeville scored the highest in the tri-county region on a new career readiness assessment that also includes a soft skills component, according to state Department of Education test results released …

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Clarendon 3 leads tri-county area on career readiness test

Ready to Work 11th-grade assessment with soft skills section used for 1st time

Posted

Clarendon School District 3 students based in Turbeville scored the highest in the tri-county region on a new career readiness assessment that also includes a soft skills component, according to state Department of Education test results released this week.

Ryan Brown, chief communications officer with the state department, discussed scores from the first-year Ready to Work assessment. The assessment was administered last spring and sponsored by Worldwide Interactive Network. WIN Ready to Work replaced ACT WorkKeys last year as the state's official career readiness assessment, which is administered to all 11th-graders.

Like WorkKeys, Ready to Work assesses the areas of applied mathematics, reading for information and locating information and provides a customized credential that shows a student's ability to perform tasks and his or her qualifications for a broad range of jobs, according to a department news release. There are four certificate levels: bronze, silver, gold and platinum.

To earn a bronze certificate, a student must score a minimum of 3 on all three assessments. For a silver certificate, a minimum of 4 is required; for gold, a minimum of 5 is required; and for platinum, a minimum of 6 is required.

Brown said the two tests are very similar and "more or less comparable."

Like WorkKeys, the benchmark that schools and districts aim for on Ready to Work is Level 4 (Silver) or higher, which indicates students have the skills necessary for 65 percent of profiled jobs in the WIN database.

A total of 71 percent of 11th-graders in Clarendon 3, at East Clarendon High School, earned at least a silver compared to 63.3 percent overall in the state. One hundred students were tested in Clarendon 3.

All four other districts in the region scored below the state benchmark of 63.3 percent. In Sumter School District, 49.4 percent of 11th-graders earned silver or higher certification. A total of 1,033 students in Sumter were tested.

Clarendon School District 1, in Summerton, followed next with 49.2 percent of 11th-graders earning silver or higher. One of the smallest districts in the state, Clarendon 1's 11th-grade cohort at Scott's Branch High School tested 57 students.

Clarendon District 2, in Manning, was next with 46.2 percent of 11th-graders earning silver certification or greater. Lee County School District had 31.4 percent of 11th-graders reach the benchmark.

Essential Soft Skills Assessment

Ready to Work featured the Essential Soft Skills assessment, which was new to the state last year. That assessment provided information about a student's skills in areas such as problem solving, goal setting, decision-making and self-direction - all considered critical skills in today's workplace.

Because the test was in its first year, Brown said score results will serve as a baseline for the state.

Clarendon 3 scored highest with a pass rate of 76 percent on the assessment. The state average pass rate was 76.9 percent.

Sumter ranked second in the region with 70.4 percent of 11th-graders passing the test. Clarendon 2 was next with 64.4 percent of 11th-graders passing.

Brown noted the career readiness scores will now factor into the state's accountability system for schools and districts for the first time. In the past, only college-readiness assessments factored into the accountability system.

"I think now as schools realize the importance of it and that we're pushing both college and career readiness that it will raise the stakes for them, which will hopefully place a renewed emphasis on not just the students going into college, but students also being prepared for careers," Brown said. "We know that not every career available requires a four-year degree."