Wayne County High School students are better prepared for the workforce today due to a concentrated and dedicated effort on behalf of the Wayne County High School staff, along with the Wayne County Area Technology Center staff. Their work has been validated through state testing results that ranked Wayne County High School tied for number one in the area of College and Career Readiness (CCR).
“We made a targeted effort to get as many seniors College and/or Career Ready as possible last year, and it’s nice to see that pay off,” said Wayne County High School Principal Justin Alley. “Our teachers and staff and those at the Wayne County Area Technology Center are to be commended for their work. This took a lot of people doing the right things to push our Seniors for success on College Readiness Indicators, Occupational Skills, and Industry Certifications.”
With this new focus geared towards career specific education, the school district is looking forward to building a new career center facility that will move opportunities for students forward, coupled with advancements in technology training. It is an appropriate time for this construction since educators are so focused on providing students with skills to enter the work force in a variety of trades. They are anxious to provide instruction in modern labs that facilitate these types of teaching strategies. In addition, the state accountability model is changing next year so students and staff are facing even greater demands in this area through new calculations and requirements as they move ahead.
“With the new state accountability model, we will need more emphasis on industry certifications in our Career and Technical programs. Our staff have already begun that work and are implementing strategies to attain those certifications.
For instance, on December 7th, nineteen students from Shannon Foster’s Family and Consumer Science classes earned the Orientation for Kentucky Early Care and Education Professionals. These students participated in a six-hour training to earn the certificate. This certificate is required of all childcare employees. The students will also be eligible for the Commonwealth Child Care Credential Certificate of Eligibility at the conclusion of the school year. Both certificates are stackable industry certificates, which are part of the career readiness accountability.
Alley said they have renewed a push on soft skills, particularly with the seniors. “We want to do whatever we can to make students attractive to our area businesses and competitive in whatever field, area, and location they choose to pursue.”
For instance in Jamie Foster’s math class, she has invited manufacturing specialists to share information about their companies and the skills they need to perform tasks in the work place. She was one of several local high school teachers that participated in industry externships this past summer to learn more about manufacturing company expectations.
Veteran Wayne County High School Site Based Decision Making Council Member Danny Upchurch said, “We are so proud of our students and teachers who have worked diligently for our school and community in regard to college and career readiness. This type of honor does not happen overnight.”
“College and career readiness has always been a priority for Mr. Alley,” noted Upchurch. “He has remained focused and dedicated to making sure that our students, school and community can be considered number one in the Commonwealth. We all have a lot to be proud of.”
KOSSA completion is part of CCR, but not necessary if students gain industry certifications or a JROTC Certificate of Completion. An academic component was also necessary, in the form of ACT, COMPASS, or KYOTE Benchmarks or by gaining a WorkKeys Certificate.
“We made a purposeful change in WorkKeys testing by moving it to December instead of January in order to focus more on students who actually needed the WorkKeys Certificate,” noted Alley.
Classes that directly contributed to the CCR last year were: English 4, College Readiness Math, all the Kentucky Occupational Skill Standards Assessment (KOSSA) career classes like Marketing, Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Allied Health. In addition, Wayne County High School JROTC students can receive a certificate of completion if the cadet completes three semesters. The program provides excellent training opportunities in citizenship, administration, management, supervision, leadership responsibilities, and the opportunity for the exercise of authority and respect for school rules and law and order. Satisfactory completion of the program can lead to advanced placement credit in Senior ROTC in college or advanced rank in the active Army, Army Reserve, or the National Guard.
The local JROTC program is in its 25th year and has an outstanding reputation. On the average each year, four graduates go on to serve in the military.
WCHS Marketing Teacher Stacy Perkins explained that all students are eligible to take a KOSSA test once they are enrolled in the third credit within a pathway. In addition to the KOSSA test getting the student career ready, she acknowledged the industry certifications in Family and Consumer Science and JROTC. The industry certification also gets them career ready. Plus, WCHS Ag Teacher Justin Horton is piloting some new industry certifications in his area this year.
While this career readiness shift is more and more prevalent in public education, Perkins noted that scheduling is extremely important in the process to make sure the students are enrolled in the third class.
“Specifically, as far as my class goes I have two pathways and I have had more success with students passing Financial Services more than Retail Services. We take several practice tests in class to try and prepare. If they take a test as a junior and fail to pass they can retake it their senior year,” Perkins explained.
Students are fortunate to be able to blend their high school schedule with nearby classes they are shuttled to at the Wayne County Area Technology Center. Not every high school has the luxury of an ATC school in their community, much less on their campus. Wayne County High School’s partnership with the vocational school greatly contributes to their CCR standing due to the efforts made by the following departments: Business, Welding, Automotive, Allied Health, Machine Tool, and Carpentry.
ATC Principal John Kinnett said their teachers played a big role in the recent CCR accomplishment. His unofficial data showed the ATC Preparatory Seniors at 93 percent college and/or career ready. He explained that preparatory students have completed two credits and are enrolled in a third credit in a specific career pathway.
Kinnett said, “74 percent of our 110 preparatory seniors earned an industry certification or passed KOSSA in their career pathway. He said 90 percent of all Wayne County ATC preparatory seniors earned silver or higher on WorkKeys assessment last year.”
In particular, in the welding department, 17 of the 24 preparatory seniors earned Welding DOT industry certification. This was quite an accomplishment because the welding instructor had started the school year later in the beginning of December.
The automotive department had 16 of 18 preparatory seniors earn Automotive Service Industry certification, according to Kinnett.
Kinnett reported that 100 percent of Carpentry’s 12 preparatory seniors earned NCCER Construction Industry Certification. In fact, two years in a row Carpentry has had a 100 percent pass rate on industry certification. Plus, 100 percent of Health Science’s 17 preparatory seniors were CCR and 17 of those passed industry certification. And 100 percent of Machine Tool Technology’s 18 preparatory seniors were CCR.
In addition, 29 of the 33 Office Technology and Accounting preparatory seniors were CCR with 20 of those earning KOSSA or MOS Industry Certification.
Last year at the ATC, they offered three business career pathways that students could complete. ATC Business/Office Technology Instructor Dana Hurd said, “If they take a series of three or four classes in that pathway they are more likely to cover the material needed to successfully pass KOSSA. The pathways that we offered last year were Accounting, Administrative Support, and E-Commerce. The first two have tests in KOSSA, and we also offered a Finance KOSSA exam because our classes work in conjunction with Mrs. Perkins’ classes at the high school.”
“Last year we had 37 students take these tests and 19 of them passed,” explained Hurd. “We were extremely pleased that over half of the students passed. The test consists of three main components: academics, employability, and then whatever is the KOSSA program area (accounting, finance, etc.). We focus a lot on employability skills as well as specific business content here in our department. The certification process in E-commerce only comes through passing the MOS tests that Mr. Allen administers throughout the year. The KOSSA and the MOS are the two ways that any students can be considered Technically Career Ready. This is why all classes at the ATC, along with four other programs at the high school are vital for Wayne County High School students to be involved in.”
“We have a great program that is helping so many students pass the MOS test to be considered Microsoft Office Specialists,” said Hurd. “This is a nationally recognized certification.”
“The MOS certification is a state-wide opportunity for schools to incorporate Microsoft’s Imagine Academy Curriculum and Testing options into our programs,” said ATC Business/Technology Teacher Rob Allen. “This is without charge to the school for the curriculum or for the student testing. For Industry Certification, students have to successfully complete the MOS Testing in three of the four areas of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access). There were 13 seniors that completed the MOS Industry Certification last year.”
That is valuable because it shows proof of knowledge in a particular software program. It becomes particularly valuable if an employer is looking specifically for someone who has knowledge in programs such as Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Access.
Hurd said that students see the value in taking technical classes. Just last week a student said that she has a class during the day with a bunch of freshmen and she told them that when she got “stuck” in two vocational classes it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to her.
“She said that when she took a health science class that she was immediately happy and saw that it was something she was really interested in. She also thought that Digital Literacy was a great class for everyone and once she was here, she saw the need to take other business classes because when she pursues a career in pharmacy, she plans on opening her own business and the skills that she has learned through the business department will be of great benefit,” concluded Hurd.
Wayne County High School is number one in the state in preparing it's students for College and going straight into the workforce
Nineteen students from Shannon Foster’s Family and Consumer Science classes earned the Orientation for Kentucky Early Care and Education Professionals.