ACT National Career Readiness Certificate Recommended for Three Semester Hours of College Credit

Posted October 31, 2012

ACT National Career Readiness Certificate
Recommended for Three Semester Hours of College Credit

American Council on Education Recommends College Credit for
Certificates Awarded at Silver Level or Above

IOWA CITY, Iowa—The American Council on Education (ACE) has recommended that postsecondary educational institutions award college credit in applied critical thinking to individuals who earn the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC™). ACE recommends that three credit hours be awarded to recipients who earn specific levels of the credential.

“This development will intensify the momentum building behind the NCRC, a credential now recognized as the most effective strategy for certifying workplace skills and predicting workplace success,” said Jon Whitmore, ACT chief executive officer. “The credential can now serve a larger segment of the U.S. population by expanding postsecondary opportunities for returning service members, dislocated and emerging workers, career and technical education students, and many others. This will ultimately create important dividends for the U.S. economy.”

ACT has registered nearly 1.5 million National Career Readiness Certificates and now serves statewide or regional credentialing initiatives in more than 40 states. Successfully completing the required ACT WorkKeys® assessments and earning an NCRC enables an individual to demonstrate essential foundational competencies across three critical skill areas linked by ACT research to workplace success: reading comprehension, applied mathematics, and locating information.

Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and a member of the ACT Board of Directors, stated, “Our member institutions are already demonstrating their commitment to meeting the needs of their employer constituents, and this recommendation  provides an additional strategy to connect employers and individuals. This alternative credit pathway will benefit students, employers and communities.”

Jennifer McNelly, president of the Manufacturing Institute, a nonprofit affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), stated, “The ACT National Career Readiness Certificate serves as the foundational certification in the NAM-Endorsed Skills Certification System—the national flagship initiative to address the skills gap crisis facing U.S. manufacturers. ACT is the world-class market leader in ensuring that the talent pipeline is equipped with the essential foundational skills necessary to pursue additional education and training—and employment—in the manufacturing industry. The Manufacturing Institute supports this ACE recommendation to award college credit for the NCRC. This action will help students more quickly acquire the education they need to enter into and advance in manufacturing careers.”

ACE follows stringent procedures for establishing its recommendations. A team of faculty members from relevant academic disciplines, as well as a psychometrician, reviewed the NCRC assessment process, examinations, and testing protocols to reach the decision to recommend credit for individuals who earn the NCRC. Multiple factors were evaluated, including the reliability, content validity, and technical adequacy of the exam.

The ACE College and University Network is a group of institutions that use ACE credit recommendations to provide more opportunities for adult learners to earn a college degree. There are more than 2,000 institutions in the Network that accept ACE credit recommendations for learning experiences completed outside of traditional degree programs. Based on their individual policies and practices, colleges and universities determine credit awards.

The specific ACE recommendation for awarding credit using the NCRC is shown below:


Recommended Semester Hours in Applied Critical Thinking


NCRC Level





Level 6


Lower-division baccalaureate/associate’s degree




Level 5


Lower-division baccalaureate/associate’s degree




Level 4


Vocational certificate




Level 3


No credit




“ACE is committed to the national goal of boosting the number of adults with college degrees. ACE credit recommendations help millions of adult learners, including veterans and active duty military, gain credits and earn postsecondary credentials,” said Patricia Book, ACE’s assistant vice president for lifelong learning. “We are pleased to recommend that members of ACE’s College and University Network award credit hours to individuals who have completed specific levels of the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate.”

ACT workforce development president Martin Scaglione added, “Helping people recognize their potential to learn empowers them. We at ACT believe in helping individuals improve themselves by recognizing their strengths and encouraging them to learn and grow. The NCRC is a tool that helps connect individuals with opportunities in the workplace. The ACE recommendation further establishes the NCRC as a tangible bridge between preparation and performance in careers for the 21st century.”