Career/Technical Education: Employability Skill Assessment Tools Are Used to Ensure Program Quality

Career/Technical Education: Employability Skill Assessment Tools Are Used to Ensure Program Quality

Nineteen states have either adopted or are developing skill assessment tools. Three states require students to complete employability skill assessment tools to earn a career/technical endorsement on the high school diploma.

Why does it matter?

  • Externally-validated end-of-course examinations can promote college- and/or career-readiness.
  • Using an industry-specific assessment tool assures the student's success and mastery of the area of study.
  • Work-ready skill assessments clearly document proficiency in areas of greatest interest to employers.
  • Methodology: This information was collected from state statutes, rules and regulations, and will be updated as new policies are enacted.

    Last updated: June 2008

    Research conducted by Melodye Bush. Please contact Jennifer Dounay Zinth for questions, additions or corrections: 303.299.3689 or

Employability skill assessment tools are used to ensure program quality
Arkansas Yes, online assessment tools that have been validated by the appropriate industry.
California The state does not currently have industry specific assessments for all of its career and technical education programs. However, the California Department of Education does encourage qualifying students to take industry assessments and is presently exploring options that are available to incorporate a statewide assessment program.
Delaware State department of education mandates the implementation of career pathway assessments for all career and technical education programs. Industry-specific assessment tools include state licensing tests, national certification tests, postsecondary program advance-placement tests, and tests from the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute.
District of Columbia
Florida Yes. The state board of education is to adopt rules for implementing an industry certification process. The rules must establish any necessary procedures for obtaining appropriate business partners and requirements for business and industry involvement in curriculum oversight and equipment procurement. 

Where no national or state certification exists, school districts may establish a local certification in conjunction with the local workforce development board, the chamber or commerce or the Agency for Workforce Innovation.
Hawaii Both end-of-course and end-of-program study assessment tools are in development.
Idaho Department staff assert that industry-specific assessments are made available at the secondary level, but use is left to the decision of the local district.
Indiana Industry-specific assessment tools are recommended and promoted. An advanced diploma is tied to industry-based certifications. No funds are available to help offset costs.
Kansas Assessment tools are being developed. In February 2008, the state board of education approved a motion that charges the state department of education with the creation/approval of gold standard assessments that support high expectations (industry-recognized credentials/certifications) for each of the career clusters.
Louisiana The board of supervisors is to provide assistance to local boards and leadership in the development of the minimum standards of technical and skill programs to allow the programs to meet the standard necessary to be included in an industry certification program.

To earn a career/technical endorsement to the high school diploma, a student must complete an approved industry-based certification or three hours of postsecondary coursework.
Maryland Yes, there are over 30 industry-recognized credentials available for students to acquire through completion of the Maryland's career and technical education programs of study. 
Minnesota Currently being developed
Missouri Although not state mandated, some schools use industry-specific assessment tools.
New Hampshire Yes
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota Not at this time. Over the next five years, all programs will use industry-validated assessments.
Oklahoma Yes, multiple assessments used
Oregon Objectives of 2005 Oregon Educational Act for the 21st Century included developing comprehensive, professional technical education programs for students that lead to industry certification. Secondary assessment tools are limited to NATEF, MarkEd, NOCTI and CNA.
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota In partnerships with local school districts, the state promotes the use of the following industry assessments:
  • ProStart
  • A+
  • CCNA/Networking
  • Cisco
  • C-Tech
Texas While not established in state policy, students are encouraged to seek industry certification.
Virginia Students seeking a Career and Technical Education Seal are required to complete a prescribed sequence of courses in career and technical education and maintain a "B" or better average in those courses or pass an examination of an occupational competency assessment that confers certification or occupational competency credential from a recognized industry, trade or professional association.

In addition, the board may permit students completing career and technical education programs designed to enable the student to pass such industry certification examinations or state licensure examinations to be awarded the appropriate verified units of credit for one or more career and technical education classes. Students take industry-specific assessments or certification exams where applicable.
Washington The superintendent of public instruction is to develop a list of approved career and technical education programs that qualify for the alternative assessment for career and technical students. Programs on the list must meet the following minimum criteria:
  • Lead to a certificate or credential that is state or nationally recognized by trades, industries, or other professional associations as necessary for employment or advancement in that field
  • Require a sequenced progression of multiple courses, both exploratory and preparatory, that are vocationally intensive and rigorous
  • Have a high potential for providing the program completer with gainful employment or entry into a postsecondary workforce training program.

All public high schools in the state are to provide a program, directly or in cooperation with a community or technical college, a skills center, an apprenticeship committee, or another school district, for students who plan to pursue career or work opportunities rather than entrance to a baccalaureate-granting institution after being granted a high school diploma. These programs may:

  • Help students demonstrate the application of essential academic learning requirements to the world of work, occupation-specific skills, knowledge of more than one career in a chosen pathway, and employability and leadership skills
  • Help students demonstrate the knowledge and skill needed to prepare for industry certification, and/or have the opportunity to articulate to postsecondary education and training programs.
West Virginia
Wisconsin A process has been created to certify the science knowledge acquired by high school students in certain agricultural education classes. The Department of Public Instruction worked with the University of Wisconsin institutions and other campuses in the state to ensure that the certification will be widely accepted for the purposes of admission to colleges and technical institutions. The Agriculture-Science Equivalent Credit Option leads school districts through a standardized method for evaluating the rigor of the science content in agricultural education classes. Once the local educators complete the process the district may apply for official agriculture-science credit equivalency from the department.
Wyoming Wyoming will incorporate business and industry standards currently being developed into technical skills assessment in career and technical education which is currently being developed. This will be implemented via the Perkins Five-Year Plan (2008-2013)

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