ADAIR COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL
The Kentucky Department of Education places a high level of importance on college and career readiness by ranking school districts through accountability index ratings. While college readiness is determined based on ACT scores and college placement scores, students are determined to be career-ready when they pass the Kentucky Occupational Skills Standards Assessment (KOSSA). Students can also be considered career-ready through WorkKeys, ASVAB or earning a state-approved industry certification.
“Ensuring students are provided with the skills necessary for a successful transition to postsecondary education or work is crucial for students,” the Agriculture Education Consultant for the Kentucky Department of Education, Matt Chaliff, said. “An important piece of this work means giving students the opportunity to obtain industry-recognized certifications, licensures and other credentials."
At Adair County High School, student certifications have become a defining factor when classifying students as career-ready. By implementing the industry certification program, tested for on iCEV, Randy Rexroat and Kirby Hancock, Agriculture Educators at Adair County High School in Columbia, Kentucky, are filling a major gap in their career-readiness goals.
“We were lacking an accurate guide for instruction to prepare students for prior assessments,” Hancock said. “However, the lessons, videos, activities and quizzes within iCEV do a really good job preparing students for the final certification exam.”
Through the iCEV testing platform, students have the opportunity to earn industry certifications such as the Bayer Crop Science Plant Science Certification, now the BASF Plant Science Certification, as well as the Elanco Fundamentals of Animal Science Certification and the American Meat Science Association Food Safety and Science Certification. All three industry certifications are state-approved and meet the requirement for career readiness. Additionally, students can earn the certifications in alignment with their regular coursework and gain concrete, evidenced skills to include on their résumé.
“Students are more easily motivated to learn and achieve a certification because it is something they may use to obtain employment in the future,” Hancock said.
After using iCEV’s certification platform for only one year, Adair County is already seeing results. During the 2016-17 school year, Adair County had 40 students earn an industry certification through iCEV.
Adair County has dramatically increased its career-ready success rates because students are more driven to earn a tangible certification as opposed to simply passing a test. In fact, many of Hancock’s students are putting their skills to use in jobs they’ve gained from earning a certification.
“I have several students who are now working for local veterinarians and livestock operations as a direct result of their receiving the Elanco Fundamentals of Animal Science Certification,” Hancock said.
Senior Brady Baker, one of these students, is directly translating the knowledge he gained while earning his certification to his current co-op job.
“Because of what I learned while earning my certification, I better understand many of the problems we work with when I go on calls with the veterinarian I work for,” Baker said. “I also have been able to learn a lot of things that I can put to use on my family’s dairy farm.”
Additionally, the skills students gain while earning industry certifications often benefit them in other classes.
“I use the information that I learned while completing my certification even now in all of my other classes. My certification also prepared me for my future in college and in a career,” junior Abby Dykes said of her experience with certifications.
Students who earn industry certifications are honored at a special dinner where they are recognized for their accomplishments in front of parents and classmates. “Students, as well as their parents, are very happy with the success rate,” says Rexroat.
Teachers who have students earn certifications also feel a sense of pride for their students. “As the students pass the final examination and receive their certificates, I have a feeling of accomplishment because I am confident they have mastered the content,” Hancock said.
A key part of a student’s experience in marketing courses at Mesquite ISD is applying their classroom knowledge to an actual business environment. McMillon encourages her students to offer to help with their workplace’s social media strategy, especially if it is a small business.
Her students have been able to conduct marketing research, aid in the development of a mobile application, create a social media marketing strategy to help boost a lunch program and much more.
“We have seen students get additional responsibilities at their jobs because they have been able to apply what we are talking about in the classroom to their work,” McMillon shared. “By doing this, they are able to prove to their supervisor that they can move up from an entry-level position. For us, that’s the dream scenario.”
iCEV lends a helping hand to districts across the state looking to increase career readiness for their students with certifications and curriculum that equips the next generation with skills that can easily apply to modern industry expectations.
“This is the best curriculum and assessment package I have experienced in my 20+ years of teaching,” Hancock said. “The iCEV courses are rigorous, yet the students stay interested because the information in the modules is up to date and they know it will help them in the future.”
Adair County High School is leading by example with its implementation and promotion of industry certifications to prepare Adair County students for college and careers.