Driven by business and industry needs, career and technical education (CTE) in Arizona has developed multiple assessments to determine students’ career readiness. The Arizona Skills Assessment System, created by the Arizona Skill Standard Commission, a group of business and industry leaders and co-chaired by the State Superintendent of Instruction, currently contains technical assessments for specific industries.
In recognition of the importance of both industry-specific technical skills and general employability skills for jobs in all industries, the Commission decided to expand its assessment system to allow for a broader measure of career readiness. As a result, the Commission initiated a process in 2010 to create employability skill standards to guide CTE instruction in Arizona.
To identify employability skills, the Commission sought broad employer input through public forums, regional focus groups, and surveys. More than 250 stakeholders contributed to this process, including small and large employers and workforce and education representatives. Employers provided information on the specific skills needed for on-the-job success and their frequency of use in a variety of industries, such as manufacturing, construction, financial services, retail services, healthcare, technology, public utilities, state and local government, hospitality, and communications and media. From this public process, nine categories of employability skills emerged, leading to the drafting of Arizona’s workplace skills framework and employability skills standards. The Commission adopted the standards in July, 2011.
Arizona plans to develop and administer assessments for each of the nine employability standards. As of September 2012, the state has developed Workplace Employability Skills Rubrics for six standards and drafted rubrics for the final three standards. The state is now finalizing the scoring rubrics and developing contextualized scenarios to guide the assessment’s development, which will be incorporated into the various industry-validated technical assessments for each CTE program area. Currently, CTE students who successfully pass the technical skill assessments can earn an employer-recognized certificate — the state’s goal is that the certificates will ultimately represent attainment of both technical and general employability skills and provide a helpful measure of career readiness in the state.
The Arizona Skill Standard Commission engages business and industry with Arizona’s CTE system. Membership includes business leaders, employers needing a skilled workforce, and state government representatives. The Commission approves industry-recognized skills standards, validates assessments, awards credentials to students, and aligns system development efforts with existing industry-developed credential systems.
For more information, visit Arizona's CTE website.
Workplace Employability Skills Project Report to Arizona Skill Standards Commission, Arizona Department of Education, 2011, http://www.azed.gov/career-technical-education/files/2011/12/workplaceemployabilityskillsreport.pdf
Arizona Skill Standards Assessment System 2012 Annual Report Presented to the Arizona Skill Standards Commission and Arizona Stakeholders Committee, 2012, Arizona Department of Education in partnership with University of Arizona Workforce and Education Office, http://www.azed.gov/career-technical-education/files/2011/06/annual-report-july-2012.pdf
Arizona Skill Standards Commission, Arizona Department of Education, http://www.azed.gov/career-technical-education/files/2011/11/arizonaskillstandardscommissionpurpose.pdf