For over 20 years, NOCTI has collaborated with the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), Bureau of Career and Technical Education (BCTE) to support the state’s career and technical education (CTE) programs. While the scope of the partnership has evolved over the last two decades, the focus on raising student performance and preparing learners for a successful career has remained constant.
Technical Assistance Program (TAP)
The BCTE’s Technical Assistance Program (TAP) supports approved CTE programs to increase the quality and impact of CTE programs, while ensuring alignment to the Commonwealth’s economic and workforce development priorities. Through TAP, participating schools are working to raise student academic and occupational performance.
As part of the program, each participating school:
- Develops an improvement plan for increasing student achievement
- Works with a designated improvement coach
- Participates in professional development activities provided by the BCTE
NOCTI’s pre-tests and Study Guides are key features of TAP. These resources are funded by the program for participating schools. An improvement coach, a Career and Technical Distinguished School Leader (CTDSL), works with the school team to successfully implement study guides and find meaningful ways to use scoring data.
Pre-tests provide CTE programs with information and data to assist instructors and students in identifying skill strengths and gap areas that may need further remediation. These reports are excellent diagnostic tools to help instructors adjust curricula to meet the specific needs of the students. Data from NOCTI’s score reports is incorporated into the TAP program’s training and coaching days.
Study Guides are embedded into the program between pre- and post-testing. Study guides can be used to assist in improving student performance on the end-of-program assessment. This resource includes study checklists and breakdowns for both the knowledge-based and skill-based components.
Student Occupational Competency Testing
Student Occupational Competency Testing is a graduation requirement for students in approved CTE programs. NOCTI is the approved and legislated end-of-program assessment for more than 25 programs of study within the state. NOCTI’s tests consist of two components.
- A multiple-choice test evaluates factual knowledge, technical information, and understanding principles of problem solving.
- A performance test allows students to demonstrate the skills they have learned by completing actual jobs using the occupation’s tools, materials, machines, and equipment.
Each year, the BCTE develops Pennsylvania-specific criterion-referenced cut scores for NOCTI tests to determine advanced, competent, and basic performance levels. Passing scores represent the skill level of a minimally competent student and reflect the skills and knowledge to safely and effectively perform the duties on the very first day. NOCTI integrates the state-established cut scores into its custom system for reporting purposes which include custom district and state-level reports.
Students achieving the advanced performance level receive the Pennsylvania Skills Certificate. This certificate was created to recognize CTE students who have shown advanced skill achievement in their technical program. This recognition is also one of the qualifying documents used to offer students advanced college credits when partnering with postsecondary institutions through statewide articulation agreements.
NOCTI’s importance to the state’s CTE programs is evidenced by inclusion in Pennsylvania legislation (House Bill 202, 2017). This bill states CTE concentrators may demonstrate their readiness for careers or postsecondary education by attaining an industry-based competency certification related to their program of study. The bill also defines NOCTI tests as “approved industry-based competency assessments.”
Customized Assessments & Systems
In addition to pre-testing, study guides, and post-testing, NOCTI also works with Pennsylvania to develop custom assessments and system features.
The current list of 26 custom assessments were developed with Pennsylvania subject matter experts. Topics span thirteen career clusters, including automotive mechanics, agriculture, architecture, information technology, and manufacturing. Development also includes supplemental study guides for each title.
To further support Pennsylvania CTE, NOCTI developed custom system features for users at both the state and local levels.
- NOCTI Coordinators use a customized Client Services Center with automated features for placing orders and assigning students to teachers, tests, and study guides. Custom reports provide information such as performance level indicators and site and state-level testing data.
- Teachers use a customized Teacher Resource Center to manage study guide usage and activity and to retrieve score reports and certificates.
A dedicated NOCTI project manager works with state and local leaders to assure all stakeholders are provided the support they need, and that professional development and training, resources, and technical support are available.
“NOCTI’s customized Client Services Center (CSC) for Pennsylvania’s programs makes it so easy for District-wide coordinators such as myself who have to order close to 3,000 NOCTI exams each year. NOCTI has done such a great job in streamlining the ordering process and the CSC continues to be more efficient each year. The CSC also allows programs and teachers to be directly connected to the system where they can manage students and more importantly, view and download their score reports for both the pre- and post-test, which allows instructors to target those areas where students have not scored well. These score reports are key to the overall success of the program.”
– Bob Kingston, Data & Assessment Planning Coordinator for the School District of Philadelphia, Office of Career and Technical Education
Certification Program Management with NOCTI
With over 55 years of experience in CTE, NOCTI is a trusted resource for guiding and assisting credentialing programs of all sizes—from state CTE programs to those offered by professional organizations. Those who partner with NOCTI have access to industry-leading services and resources, including industry credentials, psychometric services, digital badging, and customized solutions. Please let us know if you have questions about our services.