Students Confused About New Jobs Skills Assessment

Why were juniors required to take the ACT WorkKeys test?

By Beth Williams, Current Staff

On the morning of March 4, the hallways of the West Bend High Schools were void of their usual noises of scraping shoes and student chatter. Instead, the junior classes from both East and West sat down to take what they thought was just another standardized test.

This test, however, came with a twist: this was the first time that this specific test was being offered to WBHS students.

The ACT WorkKeys is a jobs skills assessment used to measure students’ readiness for employment. The format of the ACT WorkKeys includes three components: reading for information, applied mathematics, and applied technology.

Unfortunately, the purpose of the ACT WorkKeys was not fully communicated to the student body.

“Well, I was confused about the WorkKeys, because isn’t it for the technical college?,” said Rachel Uhren, a junior at East.

“I was confused about the WorkKeys, because isn’t it for the technical college?”
– Rachel Uhren, East junior

According to Ralph Schlass, one of the schools’ assistant principals, the state of Wisconsin now requires students to take both the ACT and the ACT WorkKeys. “It’s required by the state, and it aligns with our mission to prepare all students for college and/or career success,” he said.

“The hope is that it will be used by employers to select and maybe hire people or give them an indication of what people need more training in. There are jobs, but there are not people to fill these jobs. This is what we are using as a tool to help employers, and frankly, to help students understand where they need more work and focus,” Schlass said.

West junior Aimee Solheim thought that the scores served another purpose. “My impression was that it was for students who weren’t college-bound and going into the workforce,” Solheim said.

Other students were worried about the test because they did not know who was going to see their scores. “I was scared it would count towards my ACT score,” said Adam Gergetz, East junior.

Regardless of student confusion, Schlass thinks that the students did a nice job on both of the tests. “I believe that students understand and recognize the importance of the ACT and the ACT WorkKeys. I know students feel like they have been tested a lot, and they have been, but these tests designed by the ACT were taken very seriously,” he said.

The high school administration is still deciding how the scores will be used, according to Schlass.

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