FAQ

General

What are the requirements for this federal legislation?

States must ensure that teacher aides/paraprofessionals meet at least one of the following qualifications:

  • An associate's (or higher) degree
  • Two years' postsecondary studies, or pass a formal assessment in the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics
  • Documentation of ability to assist in instructing (classroom pedagogical skills)

Any assessment used to certify teacher aides/paraprofessionals must be valid, reliable, and documented.

What solution does ACT offer?

The WorkKeys Proficiency Certificate for Teacher Assistants (PCTA), including a performance-based assessment—Instructional Support Inventory (ISI).

Why is ACT's solution the one that school districts should choose?

ACT's system is simple, affordable, flexible, and quick. It offers:

  • Fast, accurate, secure, reliable, and valid assessments
  • An affordable, easy-to-use program
  • Development by ACT, a recognized leader in testing and research

In which states are school districts already using WorkKeys for this purpose?

Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas.

School districts in California and Montana are permitted to use WorkKeys to test their teacher assistants. These states have opted not to recommend any assessments for paraprofessional testing but are leaving it up to the school districts.

Check with your state's Department of Education for more specific requirements.

In addition, thousands of schools, businesses, and organizations have been using WorkKeys for more than a decade. WorkKeys is a system developed by ACT to analyze the foundational skills required by employers, assess individuals' proficiencies in those skills, and provide assistance and direction in building those skills.

How do I receive a WorkKeys Proficiency Certificate for Teacher Assistants?

To qualify, examinees must take the following WorkKeys assessments, which have been legally validated for high-stakes assessment.

The Instructional Support Inventory must be completed by an objective evaluator, usually a supervisor, while observing the teacher assistant on the job. The Instructional Support Inventory and the WorkKeys Proficiency Certificate for Teacher Assistants are ordered using the WorkKeys Materials Order Form and are sold as a set. Both forms are provided in paper format only.

How long is each test?

Reading for Information and Applied Mathematics tests are 55 minutes each for WorkKeys Internet Version (WKIV) and 45 minutes each for the paper-and-pencil version. Business Writing is offered in WKIV and paper-and-pencil; both take 30 minutes to complete. Writing is paper-and-pencil and takes 40 minutes. The Instructional Support Inventory has no time limit; it requires paper-and-pencil completion by an administrator.

Administering the Program

How can I get set up to give the WorkKeys Internet Version (WKIV) assessments?

If you are interested in becoming a WKIV testing site, please review the technical requirements before completing an application or call 800-WORKKEY (967-5539).

What's the difference between the Writing and Business Writing tests? Is one preferred over the other? Do school districts need to administer both?

Test administrators should check with their State Department of Education or school district for guidance to determine which assessment is recommended.

The Writing and Business Writing tests measure two important but separate kinds of writing needed in the workplace. The tests have similarities and differences. Both tests evaluate writing mechanics, grammar, organization, sentence structure, word usage, tone, language and writing style.

However, whereas the Writing test measures the ability to accurately retell information delivered auditorily, Business Writing focuses on the ability to create a clear, persuasive composition using original thoughts.

The Business Writing test is in WKIV and paper-and-pencil. WKIV Business Writing is scored via the Internet. The paper-and-pencil version is hand-scored. The Writing test is delivered via audio, and the responses are handwritten and hand-scored.

How can a community college offer the WorkKeys assessments to area teacher assistants?

Please call 800-WORKKEY (967-5539) for more information.

How does a WorkKeys Solutions Provider handle the Instructional Support Inventory?

To complete the Instructional Support Inventory

  1. The site administrator, sends the Instructional Support Inventory in a sealed envelope to the observer (person conducting the observation).
  2. The observer completes the Inventory, following the directions on the front.
  3. The observer returns the completed Inventory to the site administrator.

To complete the Proficiency Certificate for Teacher Assistants, the site administrator:

  1. Verifies that the examinee has met or exceeded the State requirements for:
    Applied Mathematics
    Reading for Information
    Writing or Business Writing

    Has a completed and signed Instructional Support Inventory with an acceptable or above rating.

    Note: The examinee can verify scores for the site administrator by presenting an Official WorkKeys Score Report. If needed, the examinee can obtain Workkeys transcripts.
  2. Writes the examinee's name on the front of the certificate and completes and signs the back of the certificate.
  3. Attaches the Instructional Support Inventory (with an acceptable or above rating) to the certificate.

What are the computer requirements?

You may view the computer requirements on our WorkKeys Internet Version Technical Checklist page.

When will I be billed for assessments?

Billing takes place at the end of each calendar month.

Taking the Tests

Where can I take the tests?

Teaching assistants can go to a WorkKeys Solutions Provider that offers the tests. In addition, some one-stop career centers and local schools have been trained to offer the test. Ask your local school district for locations. A school can become a private testing site for PCTA.

Do you offer study guides?

No. However, we have a curriculum publisher that provides study guides for WorkKeys assessments. This publisher is:
  • KeyTrain: (877) 842-6205

Do you have practice tests?

Yes. Online practice tests are available.

How can test takers improve their scores?

If test takers earn WorkKeys scores that are below the passing level, they can train to improve their skills. KeyTrain, a leading publisher of learning content, is partnered with ACT and authorized to develop and distribute training products that are targeted to specific WorkKeys skills.

How long does it take to get the scores?

WorkKeys Internet Version Reading for Information and Applied Mathematics test scores are available immediately. The writing scores can take up to 10 days to score.

Paper-and-pencil scoring can take place at a WorkKeys Solutions Provider, or directly through ACT. In general, assessments are scored and reports shipped within 10 working days after the date in which ACT receives the assessments.

Does the certificate meet NCLB requirements?

Yes. The WorkKeys Proficiency Certificate for Teacher Assistants is field proven and ready for immediate implementation. Best of all, the program is affordable and easy to administer.

What skill levels are teacher assistants required to meet?

Check with your local school district or the state department of education for specific requirements.

If test takers don't pass the exams, do they need to retake the entire WorkKeys battery?

No. If participants don't achieve passing skill levels on one or more of the WorkKeys exams, they can take training and then retake ONLY the skill assessments they did not pass.

If teacher assistants have already taken WorkKeys assessments, can they use those scores to get the certificate?

Yes; participants can use scores up to five years old to meet requirements. If the scores are older than that, they must retake the assessments. However, an Instructional Support Inventory must also be successfully completed to qualify for the certificate.

Note: The examinee can verify scores for the site administrator by presenting an Official WorkKeys Score Report. If needed, the examinee can obtain WorkKeys transcripts.

What does the certificate represent? Does it mean that the test taker is certified to be a teacher assistant?

The certificate is a documentation of skills, not a certification. Receiving a certificate means that the test taker achieved the required scores on the WorkKeys tests and met the standards of the Instructional Support Inventory.

After achieving the certificate, do teacher assistants have to retake the tests periodically to update it?

No. However, any change in the requirements is subject to federal legislation.