Giving Compass' Take:
- This article originally appeared in Education Week on June 30, 2017. The Every Student Succeeds Act has created an opportunity for further investigation on how researchers measure success of student-preparedness for college and careers.
What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
As states move to adopt college- and career-ready accountability systems under the Every Student Succeeds Act, many educators and researchers argue that assessments will not be able to adequately measure the "career" part of that equation.As states move to adopt college- and career-ready accountability systems under the Every Student Succeeds Act, many educators and researchers argue that assessments will not be able to adequately measure the "career" part of that equation.
Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, a few states are starting to incorporate more accountability for career-related skills, but David Conley, the director of the Center for Educational Policy Research at the University of Oregon, said the current crop of career tests do not focus enough on those underlying skills.
Career assessments typically focus on the occupations that provide high enough wages to support a family and require some postsecondary training, though usually not a bachelor's degree. Other researchers have found that the material on career-readiness tests, like the U.S. military's Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, and the civilian WorkKeys run by ACT Inc., still overlap significantly with the academic content of college-readiness tests like the ACT or SAT, which focus on early-college content, rather than content geared toward the workplace.
"College- and career-readiness is used almost interchangeably to cover everyone, but there is a paucity of evidence that those assessments bear any relation to careers, and they're at a level of abstraction that means there's often very little utility" in using the results to gauge a student's likelihood of success in the workplace, as opposed to the academic field, Camara said.
Debates around the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act—overdue since 2006—have included proposals to use state longitudinal student databases to track career outcomes, such as whether a student ends up working in the field for which he or she studied.
If accepted in the next version of the federal law, the measures could help researchers devise better indicators of career readiness.
Stephen Watson, the director of Navy selection and classification, who helped develop the ASVAB, said he expects the next generation of career assessments to include more of those "other indicators" that can point to a student's motivation and problem-solving approach to work.
The armed forces have already been exploring better ways to measure students' interests in certain fields. They're also experimenting with simulations designed to test how students would approach specific experiences at work, such as teaming up with colleagues or tackling a crisis. "
We have to predict what matters," Watson said, "and what matters is how successful people feel in their jobs, how successful they are in their jobs, and how long they stick around."