WorkKeys Works – Assessment Correlations

By on September 11, 2012
Assessment Correlations

Recently, while attending an internal meeting I was faced once again the “assessment correlation issue.” The meeting was about the development of entrance requirements for a new post-secondary program that could include both credit and non-credit courses. During the meeting, I gave a brief explanation as to what we were doing with WorkKeys and local employers who may hire the graduates of this new program. We had a general discussion about wanting to assist students get the most out of a course of study and not frustrate them because they may not have been academically prepared prior to the course. And then I was asked the frequently asked correlation question: “Are there equivalent scores between TABE, CASAS, or ACT College exam and the WorkKeys levels?”

The official ACT answer to this assessment correlation issue has consistently been that there isn’t a direct correlation between any of these different approaches. It is felt that they are basically measuring different things and for different purposes.

However, a non-ACT study was conducted by an eastern state college system that determined that a WorkKeys’ level 5 in Applied Math and Reading for Information was equivalent to an ACT College test score of 21-22 in math and language. This was based on their review of the two assessment system scores that had been taken by a person applying to a college system. Additionally, a few colleges in states like Missouri and Georgia have developed correlation tables comparing WorkKeys to CASAS and TABE.

We will be discussing how to develop a WorkKeys and other assessments correlation study as part of this new program. It will be a pilot project where we would collect as much assessment data as we could on the participating students. We would then attempt to start our own correlation matrix that could be used by other new or existing programs throughout the college or even state.

However, it is also understood that we will also attempt to reduce the total number of assessments we make students take in the future. We will also encourage ACT to take a national approach to this. Of course, a national approach will also increase the accuracy of the correlation because of large number of participants.

I will keep you updated on our progress with this venture in this blog. I welcome your ideas, thoughts and experience with this “assessment correlation issue” from both an employer and student perspective, contact me directly at

About Jim Duane

Jim has more than 30 years of experience in the workforce development field. At St. Louis Community College’s Workforce Solutions Group, Jim is the manager and lead WorkKeys job task and skill profiler for the WorkKeys Solution Center. Throughout his 10 plus years as a WorkKeys Job Profiler, Jim has worked with numerous large, medium and small size companies in the aerospace/defense, beverage, cement manufacturing, construction, drug manufacturing, electric utility, healthcare, hospital, petroleum-chemical processing, and sporting goods industries. His team has conducted approximately 50,000 WorkKeys assessments for companies, organized labor, schools, and organizations. He has also presented at national and regional conferences, chaired regional workforce resource committees, and conducted numerous local, statewide and national focus groups around workforce development. He has received the Missouri Governor's Award for Excellence in Leadership in workforce development. This award was based on the Malcolm Baldridge quality management criteria.

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