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Answering your questions:  Skill Connect Assessments

  1. How can Skill Connect Assessments be used?
  2. Who are Skill Connect Assessments designed for?
  3. Where do the industry standards come from?
  4. I heard these assessments are just based on the contests. How can they really be reliable?
  5. How are you ensuring that the Skill Connect Assessments are educationally sound?
  6. What technical areas are served by Skill Connect Assessments?
  7. How do Skill Connect Assessments address varying learning styles?
  8. What competencies does each assessment address?
  9. How do soft skills fit into the Work Force Ready System?
  10. How can an online testing system replicate a hands-on assessment?
  11. How frequently will Skill Connect Assessments be updated?
  12. What is Preceptor, and how does it fit into the System?
  13. What makes the Skill Connect Assessments different from other available assessments?
  14. What will Skill Connect Assessments cost?
  15. Should a student fail the first time, is retesting an option? What is the passing score?
  16. Could businesses sponsor testing for needy schools?
  17. Can instructors view the assessments prior to purchasing them for students?
  18. What is the baseline for passing the assessments? Does it vary by assessment?
  19. What if I'm already using an industry credentialing program?
  20. How would I explain the value of the Skill Connect Assessment to my administrator who will only fund assessments that lead to a certification?
  21. Do Skill Connect Assessments meet Perkins IV funding qualification for technical attainment accountability?
  22. What are the computer requirements to support Skill Connect Assessments?
  23. Do all of my students have to take the assessments at the same time?
  24. How do I become a proctor?
  25. How do I get assistance when something isn't working?
  26. Is there a practical/hands-on test available?
  27. Do you provide a pre (beginning course/year) & post (end of course/year) test?

1. How can Skill Connect Assessments be used?

Skill Connect Assessments can be used in many ways. Assessments frequently are used in schools for pre-testing and end-of-year testing.

Skill Connect Assessments help candidates prove their technical skills and knowledge to potential employers. They also help local instructors and programs demonstrate the value of their programs, while supporting local industries with a pool of potential employees that have been tested by a system they can trust. They may be used to identify individual educational needs as pre-assessments or to identify proficiency levels at the completion of a program of study.

2. Who are Skill Connect Assessments designed for?

Skill Connect Assessments are designed for career and technical education programs at the secondary and post-secondary levels, in addition to entities conducting workforce development and training efforts to meet assessment and development needs for technical and employability skill attainment.

3. Where do the industry standards come from?

Industry standards are developed by SkillsUSA national competition technical committees. These committees represent diverse, leading organizations that serve their respective industries. Subject matter experts lead technical committees that include industry standards developed by businesses, trade and professional associations and certifying agencies.

The technical committees have been intimately involved in the identification of standards and comptencies and the development of questions to appropriately measure technical skills and knowledge.

4. I heard these assessments are just based on the contests. How can they really be reliable?

The SkillsUSA Championships: Technical Standards were used as a starting point for the assessments; however,Skill Connect Assessments align with the industry standards and competencies as defined by industry. Industry subject matter experts have helped guide the process, and the standards and competencies have been tested with programs nationwide to assure their reliability.  We have worked to map the assessment standards to math and science standards (STEM) that can demonstrate classroom-learning achievement. 

All Skill Connect Assessments undergo a strict field-testing process, managed by a team of psychometricians from Old Dominion University's Occupational and Technical Studies Department. 

5. How are you ensuring that the Skill Connect Assessments are educationally sound?

The SkillsUSA team has worked with education experts and industry SMEs throughout the development process.  Industry-based SMEs are validating competencies, and SkillsUSA is consulting with a psychometrician who will guide item validation and assessment field-testing efforts.  The process will comply with the Standards for Educational & Psychological Testing published by the American Psychological Association and the National Council of Measurement in Education (1999). 

6. What technical areas are served by Skill Connect Assessments?

SkillsUSA offers over 40 technical and one employability & customer service assessment.  For a complete up-to-date list of available assessments visit: www.workforcereadysystem.org/technical_areas.shtml

7. How do Skill Connect Assessments address varying learning styles?

Each Skill Connect Assessment includes approximately 50 items in a variety of question types.  The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and the premier capabilities of the test platform allow for a variety of question types, ensuring that assessments appeal to auditory, visual and kinesthetic learners. 

8. What competencies does each assessment address?

The competencies addressed in each assessment are available through a corresponding blueprint.  You can access the blueprints for the assessments that are available for purchase by clicking on the name of the assessment on our website: www.workforcereadysystem.org/technical_areas.shtml.

9. How do soft skills fit into the Work Force Ready System?

Industry leaders who developed the technical assessments indicated that employability skills are important, so some employability questions will appear in our technical assessments. Furthermore, one Skill Connect Assessment is solely devoted to testing employability skills.

10. How can an online testing system replicate a hands-on assessment?

The assessment questions will test students not only on theoretical knowledge, but also on practical know-how. The goal is to develop assessments in which a student who could not perform the task with his own two hands could not achieve a passing score. SkillsUSA maximizes the use of media to allow us to more closely replicate real-world situations, coming much closer to assessing actual skill than a text-only, paper-based assessment.

11. How frequently will Skill Connect Assessments be updated?

Skill Connect Assessments will be reviewed periodically, and updated based on recommendations from the subject matter experts on the SkillsUSA Championships technical committees and feedback from instructors provided through the Work Force Ready System.

12. What is LearnMate, and how does it fit into the System?

Preceptor is a proven, state-of-the-art assessment tool packaged with a robust management system. Developed by K2 Share, it is easy-to-use and allows real-time assessment and reporting capability, allowing for immediate grading and feedback – for students, instructors and administrators.

The variety of question types (drag-and-drop, simulations, etc.) possible on the Preceptor system  ensure assessments that are accurate for all types of learners. Content and assessments are created and delivered online, allowing access from anywhere, and LearnMate allows mapping and tracking of competency/skills. Certificates can also be easily generated upon successful completion.

13. What makes the Skill Connect Assessments different from other available assessments?

Interactive – The use of animations and interactivity, the variety of question types and the use of learning principles will allow the Skill Connect Assessments to assess a broader range of competencies and to assess them more fully than text-only multiple choice items typically found in end-of-program skill-based assessments.

Industry-driven – Assessments developed by industry experts evaluate standards and criterion on an annual basis, ensuring the assessments are relevant to current industry needs.

Responsive – The system provides instant results to candidates, allowing students and instructors to target areas of improvement. 

Diverse – Skill Connect Assessments will be available in over 40 unique technical areas and evaluate technical, academic and employability competencies

Affordable – Because SkillsUSA is committed to serving career and technical education, assessments were designed with your budgets in mind.

14. What will Skill Connect Assessments cost?

The Skill Connect Assessments were designed to be affordable. A discount is extended to SkillsUSA members; however, anyone may take an assessment. Students may certainly test in multiple areas. Students may sign up for SkillsUSA membership at any time during the year to take advantage of te discounted pricing. For our pricing options, visit: http://www.workforcereadysystem.org/pricing.shtml

15. Should a student fail the first time, is retesting an option? What is the passing score?

Yes, a student may choose to retake any assessment.  Every test will be unique, drawing from a robust bank of test questions. The system not only outlines the competencies tested, but how a student performs on each competency. The price of a retest is the same as the original assessment.

A cut-score was set by industry technical committees as the passing score for each individual assessment.  A list of the cut-scores can be found at: http://www.workforcereadysystem.org/cutscores.shtml. Students making the cut-score or above will receive an automated certificate displaying the logo’s of industry technical committees.

16. Could businesses sponsor testing for needy schools?

Absolutely. In fact, Skill Connect Assessments were created through a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation called Champions for Change. The other part of that grant is to seed SkillsUSA chapters in vulnerable communities and needy schools. These programs will often serve as pilot sites for the assessments.

17. Can instructors view the assessments prior to purchasing them for students?

Yes, we are offer a 10 question demonstration of each assessment with examples of the various type of questions at no charge. You may take the demo at: http://www.workforcereadysystem.org/demo.shtml

18. What is the baseline for passing the assessments? Does it vary by assessment?

The baseline for passing assessments is determined by the technical committee of industry representatives for each assessment area. Each assessment may have a different baseline for passing, as determined by the respective industry representatives.

19. What if I'm already using an industry credentialing program?

Most of our Skill Connect Assessments serve as an onramp for these programs, such as CompTIA and AWS. Just think of it like the PSAT, preparing you for what's ahead as an authentic gauge of your strengths and areas of improvement. Candidates achieving the cut score or higher will be awarded a certificate identifying the competencies tested. The certificates are not intended to override or serve as an equivalent to industry certifications available today.

Credentialing is offered to candidates passing one of our PrintED co-branded assessments and will receive a PrintED student certification valid for two years. 

20. How would I explain the value of the Skill Connect Assessment to my administrator who will only fund assessments that lead to a certification?

Many (at least 1/3) of technical areas served by these assessments do not have any existing certification in place. As accountability becomes more important, especially due to Perkins legislation, a reliable measure of technical attainment is valuable for your students and your program.

21. Do Skill Connect Assessments meet Perkins IV funding qualification for technical attainment accountability?

SkillsUSA has received significant anecdotal feedback from administrators, state and national leaders that the Skill Connect Assessment will meet Perkins IV funding qualification.

22. What are the computer requirements to support Skill Connect Assessments?

The interactive questions containing videos and graphics run smoothly when the minimum hardware and software requirements are met. See the requirements posted at: www.workforcereadysystem.org/media/SoftHardReq.pdf.

23. Do all of my students have to take the assessments at the same time?

No, as long as proctoring is provided at all times.

24. How do I become a proctor?

No registration is required. The proctor may be a school instructor or administrative staff member or current or retired faculty member. Students may not be proctors. SkillsUSA recommends that you do not use an instructor who teaches the same area of study as the assessment to proctor the test.

25. How do I get assistance when something isn't working?

A dynamic professional support desk is available all year long with extended hours that will service both the East and West Coast.

26. Is there a practical/hands-on test available?

Currently we do not offer a practical/hands on test.

27. Do you provide a pre (beginning course/year) & post (end of course/year) test?

Yes, a separate test would need to be purchased for each pre- and post-test. See the guidelines for pre and post testing.

Still have questions?  Email us at support@skillconnect.org.