On Monday I wrote, “You can be sure that, if a student needs an NCRC in order to get a job,  your local school will be aligning its curriculum with those requirements.” The National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC)  comes from an ACT program called Certified Work Ready Communities (CWRC). Businesses that sign on to this program promise to only consider candidates with an NCRC  when interviewing. The program works with government, community/technical colleges, the K-12 system, and business/industry to purportedly measure an individual’s readiness for employment. The k-12 connection means that schools are involved in this process. Some wondered whether ACT had the clout to make schools change their curriculum.

DESE obliged by confirming that this is entirely possible with their press release yesterday promoting the WorkKeys tests developed by ACT as part of the Missouri School Improvement Pan (MSIP.)  MSIP 5 Adds ACT WorkKeys®

Now districts may use the ACT WorkKeys assessment as a career readiness indicator to earn points towards accreditation in their School Improvement plan. Having the state incentivize kids’ participation in this private assessment makes it so much easier to grow ACT’s influence.

The press release goes on to say that “The initiative is a voluntary effort guided by community leaders to align workforce and education to meet the economic needs of the state and local communities.”

“Voluntary” is an interesting word to use when it comes to the Certified Work Ready Communities program. A business owner in Missouri approached one of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core presenters recently thanking her for the information she shared because it finally made something that was happening to him back home make sense.

He had been heavily pressured, by the local Chamber of Commerce, to sign on to the CWRC program. He could not understand why this was so critical to other business leaders in the community. Like another Amway program, it seems that once you are in the CWRC the goal is to get as many businesses and schools in as possible.

This is a fabulous business plan. Develop a product that promises to shift risk from the employer to your business. Get business and government leaders together to give them the marketing pitch for your product. Get government to subtly start pushing public agencies to use your product. This will allow you to shift the burden of accountability to them so the public can’t come after you. Business leaders will pressure other businesses to use the product. Once you have achieved a certain percent of saturation, everyone else will have little choice but to join. Your business model requires businesses to supply you with data, that only you will have access to, to continually enhance your product. Meanwhile student test results will fill in even more data. Requiring members to require your certificate from new hires grants you a glorious monopoly in yet another private/public partnership not approved by the public.

DESE has now promoted state use of two ACT products: the ACT for all juniors and the WorkKeys assessment for all districts.  The first is a mandatory requirement for all 11th grade students to submit to the ACT, the company that was sued for selling student data it collected from its college entrance exams. The latter is optional. But if lots of local businesses are going to require an NCRC to be considered for employment, it would be unconscionable for districts not to require it also.

Sweet business plan ACT.

See which businesses in your county have signed on here.


Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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