Superintendents of Nevada’s school districts are hoping to make a career test an option for the mandatory exam required of all high school juniors.
“(Nevada Revised Statutes) requires all juniors take an exam but not which one so we’re saying let them take ACT or WorkKeys,” said Wayne Workman, superintendent, Lyon County School District, during a panel discussion at Northern Nevada Development Authority’s monthly breakfast meeting at the Carson Nugget Wednesday.
In 2013, the Nevada Legislature passed a law requiring juniors to take a “college and readiness” exam and in 2014 the Nevada State Board of Education designated ACT, an academic test used for college admissions.
But ACT also administers another exam called WorkKeys, which measures workplace skills.
Superintendents from all 17 school districts have signed a letter to the state department of education recommending the flexibility to administer either exam, said Workman.
School superintendents said some students aren’t college bound and their lack of interest in the academic test is bringing the state’s overall scores down.
Additionally, ACT exam results aren’t giving potential employers an accurate assessment of the students’ employment skills.
“Nevada has developed a black eye with mandatory ACT testing,” said Aaron West, CEO, Nevada Builders Alliance, during a question and answer period. “We’re trying to push employers to look at (WorkKeys) score.”
The school districts are working in many other ways to prepare students for jobs, said the panel of superintendents from Carson City and Churchill, Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties.
The schools work with Western Nevada College’s Jump Start College, a program that lets high school students earn up to 60 college credits at WNC while still attending high school.
Half the juniors and seniors in Storey County, for example, go to WNC and a quarter earn their associates degree at the same time they graduate from high school, said Robert Slaby, Storey County School District superintendent.
WNC also hosts a job development day for Churchill County where 120 students recently learned interviewing and other skills needed to find work, said Sandra Sheldon, superintendent, Churchill County School District.
Schools also have their own career and technical education curriculum, including culinary arts and construction.
Churchill County students, for example, have built and sold eight houses, said Sheldon.
“We want a curriculum that meets your expectations,” said Richard Stokes, superintendent, Carson City School District. “It’s vital we remain agile.”
Dick Campagni, owner and president, Campagni Auto Group, presented WNC with a check for $11,000 to fund 16 scholarships — eight automotive and eight general scholarships — at WNC.
“I’d like the ask businesses in Northern Nevada to join us in the fund,” said Campagni. “It helps all of us.”