KU News Service

KU develops national partnership to test students for career readiness

Tue, 11/22/2011

LAWRENCE — The Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation at the University of Kansas has announced a partnership with educational experts from Kansas and Mississippi to develop the Career Pathways Assessment System, a new, innovative assessment for determining students’ career readiness. The tool will use computer-based tests with innovative item types and performance assessments to benefit students and states looking to compete in an ever-changing global economy and will help ensure a capable and effective workforce.

“The state of Mississippi is excited about the possibilities that this collaborative offers,” said Mike Mulvihill, bureau director of the Mississippi Department of Education. “With the global economy demanding more of today's worker, it is vital that we be able to assess our student's ability to perform and compete in today's more complex business and industries. We feel that this project will allow us produce the very best assessment tools, which in turn will allow us to improve our teaching strategies for our students.”

The effort of developing a career pathways assessment began as a partnership between the center and the Kansas State Department of Education.

“Having a meaningful and reliable means of documenting our students’ ability to meet the demands of a variety of post-secondary opportunities is extremely important, which is why Kansas has chosen to be involved in the development of the Career Pathways Assessment System,” said Robin Utz, assistant director of the Career, Standards and Assessment Services Team at the Kansas State Department of Education. “The process can only be strengthened through collaboration with other states, and we welcome the opportunity to work with and learn from the representatives from Mississippi.”

With the addition of Mississippi, the center-led Career Pathways Collaborative was formed to share ideas and resources across states to create high-quality, cost-effective assessments using cutting-edge research.

“We are excited to join forces with Mississippi on the Career Pathways Collaborative so we can pool our resources, share expertise and work together to create a pioneering new assessment for career education,” said Cameron Clyne, career pathways specialist for the center. “Teaming up with experts from other states like Mississippi will ultimately benefit students by creating a state-of-the art assessment that is backed by research, knowledge and expertise from experts in the field of career education.”

Other states can join the collaborative. Once states become members, they will have a seat on the governance board, input into the definition of all tests and the option of administering any other collaborative-developed tests for a small license fee. However, states that do not join the collaborative will still be able to use the Career Pathways Assessment System, known as cPass, for a higher fee.

Students will use the cPass during secondary education to identify their competency in a chosen career pathway and to clarify their readiness for a postsecondary program, apprenticeship or entry-level job related to their program of study. cPass will test general skills required for any job such as problem solving and critical thinking, as well as test real-world skills needed in specific career pathways. Currently, nine pathways classified as high wage, high skill and/or high demand are planned for development: general agriculture, animal systems, plant systems, manufacturing production, manufacturing maintenance, general business, finance, marketing and education/training. However, up to 31 additional pathways may be developed as additional states join the collaborative.

The general skills assessment portion of cPass is expected to be developed for use as early as spring 2013. Subsequent pathways assessments will be released starting shortly thereafter with all nine original assessments expected to be accessible by spring 2014.

For more than 30 years, the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation has partnered with the Kansas State Department of Education to deliver a variety of assessment services under the Kansas State Assessment Program, the comprehensive assessment system Kansas schools use to determine whether a student learns the intended curriculum. The center also offers online training resources, practice tests and tutorials to help prepare students and educators for the Kansas assessments.

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