Assessment program tests skills to allow students to stand out in down economy

HENDERSON, Nev. – With Nevada’s unemployment rate topping the national list at 14 percent, high school and college students now have to be competitive in the work place more than ever.

Nevada State High School (NSHS)  not only provides its juniors and seniors with two years of college for free, but prepares them for the competitive job market with the WorkKeys Assessment System, which measures students’ employability based on their current skills. The results determine a student’s skill level and readiness to work in nearly 17,000 jobs nationwide ­– from administration, sales and business to technical positions, the arts, science, technology and social services.

Students in NSHS’s Study Skills course (which all NSHS students are required to take) are taught how to navigate the transition from high school to college as well as begin exploring career options and how to stand out in a competitive job market. The WorkKeys Assessment program measures students’ real-world workplace skills. The assessments are produced by ACT, best known for the ACT college entrance exam.

Depending on each student’s WorkKeys scores, they may qualify for a nationally recognized certificate they can list on resumes and applications. Each National Career Readiness Certificate has a registration number that an employer can verify by checking an online database maintained by ACT. Certificates range from Bronze (scores of 3 or better on all three assessments), to Silver (4 or better), Gold (5 or better), or Platinum (6 or better).

In fall 2009, 167 NSHS students participated in the assessment and 192 students did in the spring 2010. Students are tested in reading for information, applied math and locating information. After a full school year at NSHS, 49 percent of the students received Gold or higher, compared to 17 percent when the test was first taken at the start of the school year.

“Students can take their scores and use them when applying for positions to show their employability,” said Dr. Wendi Hawk, principal of NSHS. “The result gives students a marketing tool that helps them earn higher-paying jobs, and employers have a stronger hiring pool.”

Nevada State High School’s ability to take advantage of the WorkKeys Assessment System is made possible by the Nevada Public Education Foundation Wells Fargo “Grant a Wish for your School” mini grant program 2010. For more information on the WorkKeys Assessment System, visit

Current sophomores and juniors enrolled at Clark County public and private schools are eligible to apply to NSHS to begin classes in fall 2010. Once accepted into the school, NSHS works with students on their college curriculum and personally enrolls students into college courses that work together with their respective Clark County School District high school coursework in order for students to receive dual credit for both high school and college courses. NSHS also works with students to keep them active in their zoned high school’s extracurricular activities to ensure that students don’t miss out on traditional high school experiences.

Since opening its doors, NSHS has graduated more than 400 students. For more information on Nevada State High School call 702-953-2600 or visit