Assessment season is drawing near, and we’re excited to offer 47 industry-driven technical and employability assessments, which include 44 Skill Connect assessments and four automotive assessments offered by our co-vender Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Information on our assessments and a complete list of the assessment areas available can be found at: www.workforcereadysystem.org.At the site, there are also instructor and administrator resources to help prepare students for testing, a free 10-question demonstration of each Skill Connect Assessment, an option to purchase a 50-question sample test for $10 per assessment area and links to purchase a Skill Connect Assessment for student testing or for instructor or administrator preview.
UPDATED Assessment Blueprints! The Assessment blueprints have been updated with the weighted percent of standards and competencies to help prepare the students for the assessment. Go to: www.workforcereadysystem.org/technical_areas.shtml and click on the assessment area to see the blueprint.
Tips for student testing. As you begin preparing your site for student testing please refer to the website to review testing instructions at: www.workforcereadysystem.org/testing.shtml prior to administering the assessment and ensure your hardware and software are test-ready by reviewing the requirements before beginning testing.
If you are using Internet Explorer as your browser, the requirement is Version #8. You will need to upgrade to V8 if you are running at a lower version in order for the graphics to appear correctly. If you are running V9, you must turn on compatibility mode before beginning the assessment. We suggest you test your equipment by taking the Television (Video) Production 10-question demo because it tests all question types and sound.
Be sure to recognize the hard work and achievements of your graduates with the gift of official SkillsUSA graduation regalia. SkillsUSA stoles, tassels and honor cords can be purchased now before the rush of graduation season sets in. Just go to www.skillsusastore.org to order.
The Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation (GAERF) has announced the launch of the GAERF 2012 Student Design Competition, themed “Why Hire Me?” This annual contest, in its fourth year, challenges participants to demonstrate their creativity and skill by creating a marketing campaign that positions themselves as ideal candidates for a career they select in the graphic communications industry.
First-place winners and their instructors will receive a two-day, all-inclusive paid trip to attend GRAPH EXPO in Chicago, Ill. The winning students will receive an award of $2,000 presented during GRAPH EXPO 2012’s Career Awareness Day, October 10, 2012. Second-place winners will be awarded $1,500, and the third-place winners will receive $1,000.
For complete information about the GAERF 2012 Student Design Competition, visit www.graphicCOMMcentral.org. The entry deadline is June 15.
Yesterday, we had the great opportunity to attend President Obama’s address about American Energy at the Daimler Truck plant in Mt. Holly, N.C. Two students were in attendance with us along with SkillsUSA North Carolina officials and Joan Higginbotham from Lowe’s and Bill Willett from Snap-on.
President Obama speaks at the Daimler Truck plant.
Both the students actually met President Obama, shook his hand and got to say a few words. Chance Litwin, our student president for the college division, thanked the President for his support of community colleges and SkillsUSA. Chance attends Gadsden State Community College in Gadsden, Ala. Lance Atkinson, our state president in North Carolina, also met Obama and was able to thank him. Peyton Holland, our alumni liaison and college director in N.C., also got to shake the President’s hand. It was a good day!
From L-R: Glenn Barefoot, Chance Litwin, Joan Higginbotham, Lance Atkinson, Peyton Holland, Bill Willett and Tim Lawrence.
Special thanks to the American Association of Community Colleges for arranging the invitation for SkillsUSA.
We just finished CTE Month and we had a lot going on here at SkillsUSA. That includes social media activity during SkillsUSA Week, a new board member, a new staff member and a shout out from the Assistant Secretary of Labor. So, here are some of the highlights during this shortest month of the year.
As part of our SkillsUSA Week celebration, February 6-10, we experimented using advertising on Facebook by posting the SkillsUSA public service announcement (PSA) featuring alumna and NASCAR reporter, Wendy Venturini. The ad ran from February 9-12. The campaign reached over 420,000 unique viewers and yielded nearly one million impressions. To view the PSA, go to: www.skillsusa.org/educators/psa.shtml and scroll down to the video window of Wendy. We used the 60-second version.
Also during SkillsUSA Week, we heard about lots of activity from around the country as our chapters and state associations were engaged in advocacy and service activities. We were happy to have approximately 100 attendees on our SkillsUSA Week webinar on Tuesday, February 7 and pleased by the special guests, Russ Hoffbauer, both student national presidents and one of our business partners, former board member (and SkillsUSA alumnus), John Hinesley, who gave the keynote speech.
I’m pleased to announce that Lowe’s Senior Vice President, Troy Dally, will be joining the board of directors. And, last week, I had my first phone conversation with the new Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation director, and she sounded excited about the partnership with SkillsUSA.
Chance Litwin, this year’s SkillsUSA college/postsecondary national student president has been invited to attend the 2012 Building a Grad Nation Summit in Washington, D.C., March 18-21. The annual event brings together community groups, educators, local and state leaders, nonprofit organizations, businesses and youth to discuss efforts to increase high school graduation rates. The Summit is expected to draw 1,000 people including General Colin Powell and U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Chance was chosen from over 200 student applicants. State Farm is a Premier Sponsor for the Summit.
On February 21, Christen Battaglia joined the Office of Business Partnerships and Development to help with our fundraising. We’re very glad to have her with us and know you’ll give her a hearty welcome when you meet her.
Here is the latest on SkillsUSA membership. Remember, tomorrow (March 1), is the deadline for not only competitors, but officer candidates and delegates as well. We have 296,490 members entered now and more states have surpassed their total membership last year. Congratulations to the following state associations for exceeding last year’s overall membership. They are California, Clay Mitchell; Connecticut, Heidi Balch; Hawaii, Gilbert Chun; Maryland, Chuck Wallace; Massachusetts, Karen Ward; Mississippi, Andy Sims; New Hampshire, Lynda Demers; New Jersey, Pete Carey; New York high school division, Bruce Potter; Oklahoma, Darren Gibson; Pennsylvania, Jeri Widdowson; Rhode Island, Josh Klemp; Virginia, Ed Sullivan; and, West Virginia, Paul Lovett. And, a reminder that professional membership and alumni memberships count, so if you have staff, board members, corporate members or others (including yourself), be sure and submit them today. Individuals who are industry partners and other friends not affiliated with a local chapter can join online at the following link: www.skills-register.org/rpts/JoinAsProfessional.aspx.
SkillsUSA Champions magazine won a silver award this year in the Association Trends All-Media Contest. Among the judge’s comments: “This submitted issue lives up to the mission statement with excellent and focused content and clean and easy-to-read design elements. This organization has a strong Web presence and a digital version to further enhance its commitment to members.” Congratulations to Tom Hall and the Office of Publications. If you would like to see the winners gallery (including honors to past SkillsUSA publications), please visit: www.associationtrends.com/gallery/?cat=261.
Mike Cowles was in Washington on February 7 as part of a delegation from Columbus, Ohio to visit the White House to discuss metro economic revitalization and job creation and how the city can work with small and large businesses to do it. This was one of 40 similar meetings planned by the White House. The delegation included the mayor of Columbus. Mike joined them because of the role of career and technical education in economic development and education. He told me that at one point during the meeting he started to talk about SkillsUSA, and Assistant Secretary of Labor Jane Oates said to the entire delegation: “SkillsUSA is a great organization. If you’re not involved with it already, you need to be.”
We’re putting the final touches on a rigorous selection process for SkillsUSA WorldTeam and we’ll be keeping our state association directors informed right up front on the process and the candidates. We’ve also restructured the management team. I will be serving as the official delegate. Scott Norman from Pittsburg, Kan., is our technical expert. Dave Worden is our assistant technical expert and Heidi Ambrose is the team leader.
* The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) held a conference call the other day to ask the career and technical student organizations to help in the promotion and participation in the administration’s National Education Startup Challenge, an entrepreneurial look at education. SkillsUSA is happy to help. While on the subject of OVAE, President Obama’s 2013 budget flat-funds Perkins at $1.13 billion. One of the three key themes in the budget is “Jobs: aligning job training and education programs with workforce demands.”
* Sales of the Skill Connect Assessments are double what they were last year at this time and sales of ASE automotive assessments – in which SkillsUSA shares – are also way ahead of last year. We’ve been very fortunate to have an assessment expert helping us review the Skill Connect system, providing significant advice on how and where we can make improvements to the system and helping to develop a tool to show teachers the weighting of competencies in the tests. That will be a big help to teachers to prepare their students.
* Finally, there were 700 entries in the National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) pin and T-shirt design contest. That’s pretty neat. And, we held our first NLSC staff meeting on Valentine’s Day.