Less testing, more career choices

TOPEKA (KSNT) – The Kansas Department of Education wants high school students to focus on job skill training and less on standardized tests.

That means this coming spring, high school Sophomores are going to start taking the pre-ACT, a year earlier than in previous years.

State educators believe that less stress for students on standardized tests can be better spent preparing for the future. Starting this school year, and specifically this spring, the pre-ACT test which used to be given during the Junior year will now be given to Sophomores.

“And what we really want to do then,” says Brad Neusenswander, the Interim Kansas Education Commissioner “is now we have the Junior year and Senior year to really work on where the kids strengths and weaknesses are.”

While excelling in academics is one goal, some kids just won’t go on to college so teaching them a skill or vocation is equally important.

In Kansas about 77 percent of students go on to get some sort of post-high school degree or job training. Those in in the technical and vocational fields say demand for qualified people just isn’t keeping pace with those graduating from technical and vocational schools.

Those in that field believe the state’s move creates opportunities for parents, students and skill oriented training centers.

“Our main focus,” says Neusenswander “is we want that conversation between the parent, the student, a counselor, advisor early on. Talking about what are their skills or their interest.”

Washburn Tech is a trade school that more and more high school students are applying to, and it’s administrators hail the state’s decision to put more emphasis on technical training.

“For the last two years,” says Washburn Tech. Dean Clark Coco “we have seen a significant amount of growth; From 290 students two years ago to over 500 students.”

With 30-programs offered at Washburn Tech, student can take a skill they learned in high school and develop it further through Washburn’s program, or those at other vocational schools.

“Set goals for yourself,” advises Coco “include other people around you that have an understanding of those goals and set that pathway way early.”

Washburn Tech does require that students take the “Work Keys” exam, which is a workforce test in order to be admitted to its program.

You can learn more about the test here, or contact a local technical school for more information.

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