Simpson County may soon have a strong relation with ACTBy PAT BROWN,
When most folks mention “the ACT” they are normally referring to a test that students take to ensure they have the skills needed to enter college. It will soon have a different meaning in Simpson County, however, as well as in other counties which are a part of the Copiah Lincoln Community network. The Simpson County Development Foundation and Copiah Lincoln Community College are forming a joint venture to test students from Simpson County’s public and private schools to determine the level they will be prepared for in the job market.The test covers three primary areas and will help determine just how well a student will succeed in the job market. The skill areas are applied mathematics, locating information and reading for information. Students will be graded at one of four levels, Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum with Bronze being the lowest. At a workshop held at Co-Lin’s Thames Center last week the public schools were well represented by Dr. Tom Duncan, Terrell Luckey, Antoinette Woodall and Romonica Feazell. In addition Cindy Goodin, myself, Richard Rankin, Donnie Caughman and Evelyn Copeland attended. Other counties that are a part of the district served through Co-Lin sent similar representation from schools and the community. When this test is adopted by the county, in addition to testing students it will benefit employers as well as potential employees. When businesses choose to accept and support this program, they can have job surveys conducted to determine the skill needs required for employees to be successful at those particular jobs. Test results can also be used to determine the skills workers will need to even be prepared to seek certain types of employment. For example, if a student has a desire to be a computer programer, the test shows what they need to score in each of the three testing areas in order to be prepared for that job. Two primary goals are at the core of this program. One is the student testing that determines the students’ ability to do the jobs they want.The second is for local business and industry to agree to acknowledge the program and eventually to utilize the process in their hiring practices. Several of the business partners from Brookhaven and Lincoln County which participate with Co-Lin in the program discussed their success with its implementation. This program would benefit local employers by giving them the information for selecting potential employees who are best qualified for specific positions. Students who take the test and score low in a certain areas will be able to train in the identified area and retest in order to improve their scores. The program can also be used for workers who need to transition into different job opportunities. The ACT work readiness program is a long process, but it has some promising opportunities for Simpson County when implemented.