Inventory of Technical Skills Assessments

Project Overview

Principal Investigators

Pradeep Kotamraju
Deputy Director

The Perkins legislation calls for CTE programs to document academic and technical skills for CTE participants. Although states have widely accepted and validated measures of academic achievement, parallel measures for technical skill attainment do not exist. States have some flexibility in the sequence and definition of coursework for career pathways, so few technical skill assessments apply across all states. CTE practitioners and policymakers need a credible source of information on content and industry standards, academic standards, and related materials that will assist them in meeting their Perkins reporting requirements for secondary and postsecondary technical skill attainment measures.

An NRCCTE survey showed that stakeholders would prefer a national system that assesses skills at the occupation-specific level using industry-based standards and assessment protocols. In the absence of a consensus on a framework for establishing such measures, two widely used frameworks have emerged: the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Curriculum Framework and the Career Clusters Framework. The NCES framework identifies 10 clusters and 18 subclusters of CTE programs considered to be technical in nature. Aside from these 28 clusters and subclusters, more than 100 specific occupational programs are defined that are eligible for Perkins funding.

This project sought to organize and bring clarity to states’ wide-ranging technical skills assessments through the construction of a searchable inventory of strategies and instruments for assessing students’ acquisition of technical skills. The refined template it generated houses technical skills assessment information at the state level for (1) national, state, or local industry certifications, (2) state or locally developed state approved assessments, and (3) non-validated or proxy measures for measuring technical skills. It also includes the type of assessments and program specifies (by CIP Code, cluster, and pathway) that the assessment meets. The template also includes a notes section that provides information on a range of additional criteria known by the mnemonic SCRAPPER: Skill, Cost, Rationale, Alignment, Penetration, Performance, Estimation, and Reporting.