Michigan Lawmaker Calls WorkKeys High School Test ‘Worthless’

The ACT WorkKeys test is currently required for high schoolers – but is it necessary? Find out what one Michigan lawmaker has to say about it.

Can you make change for a $20 bill? Could your high schooler?

If it seems too simple, you’re not the only one who thinks so. It’s one of the questions on a test required for high schoolers and is an example of why one Michigan lawmaker says the test is “worthless.”

The test in question is called WorkKeys, and it’s part of the Michigan Merit Examination given to students in their junior or senior year of high school. That’s in addition to other tests high schoolers often take, like the SAT.

WorkKeys, which is one of three components of the MME, assesses job skills in “Workplace Documents, Applied Math, and Graphic Literacy,” according to the Michigan Department of Education website.

A case against WorkKeys

“This test is worthless,” says Rep. John Reilly, a Republican in northern Oakland County, in an WXYZ report.

Reilly introduced House Bill 4162 in February 2019, which would make the test optional for high school students. This would save students time and save taxpayer money, he says, pointing out that the test will cost the state of Michigan more than $4 million in 2019 alone.

The bill would remove the WorkKeys requirement but “does not prohibit school districts or public school academies from administering a workforce readiness assessment if they choose to do so.”

One student told WXZY that a question on the test even asks students to correctly identify a mute button – which is labeled – on a remote control.

The value in WorkKeys

Of course, not everyone agrees that the test is unnecessary. ACT, the national assessment organization behind WorkKeys, says it’s a valuable tool that measures critical skills. On its website, ACT notes that WorkKeys ensures students are career-ready and boosts their employability.

“WorkKeys is a system of assessments and curriculum that build and measure essential workplace skills that can affect your job performance and increase opportunities for career changes and advancement,” the site explains. “By completing the assessments, students can earn the National Career Readiness Certificate.”

When WXYZ asked the organization about the bill to remove the test as a high school requirement, the folks at ACT had this to say, in part: “Through fewer than three hours of testing, students are able to earn an ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), a unique career readiness credential that employers across Michigan and the country use when recruiting, hiring, and training their workforce.”

3 WorkKeys questions

Wondering just what types of questions are on the WorkKeys test? Here are a few of the examples ACT provides on its website.

1. Level 3 Applied Math

In your job as a cashier, a customer gives you a $20 bill to pay for a can of coffee that costs $3.84. How much change should you give back?

  1. $15.26
  2. $16.16
  3. $16.26
  4. $16.84
  5. $17.16

2. Level 4 Applied Math

Over the last 5 days, you made the following numbers of sales calls: 8, 7, 9, 5 and 7. On the average, how many calls did you make each day?

  1. 5.8
  2. 7.0
  3. 7.2
  4. 9.0
  5. 36.0

3. Level 5 Applied Math

You work in a furniture repair shop and are taking apart an old table to refinish it. You are trying to remove a bolt with a wrench. You tried a wrench size of 1⁄2 inch but found that it was slightly too big. Your wrenches are sized in 1⁄16 -inch increments. What size wrench should you try next?

  1. 1⁄32
  2. 3⁄8
  3. 7⁄16
  4. 9⁄16
  5. 5⁄8


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