Tech college puts work ethic on transcripts

Graduates of a Missouri technical college can show employers a transcript that includes a “job readiness” score and attendance as well as academic grades, reports Inside Higher EdLinn State Technical College hopes the new transcript will help students find jobs.

Instructors evaluate students’ job readiness and work ethic in six areas: safety, trust, timeliness, work habits, interpersonal and citizenship.

Job readiness is scored on a four-point scale. For example, a student must be described as “respectful” and “polite” to land a four in the interpersonal category. Lack of civility and the use of “slurs,” conversely, are on the checklist for a zero in interpersonal. As for safety, which is optional for general education courses, students get points for looking out for the safety of themselves and others, and score worse for the careless use of tools and equipment.

Under work habits, a student who’s diligent, organized and takes pride in a job well done earns a 4. A 3 usually goes beyond the minimum and has a good attitude. At the 2 level, the student is improving but needs supervision. A 1 needs supervision. Under 0, the student is lazy, takes no pride in work, ignores warnings and “thinks minimum is maximum.”

Evaluating workplace readiness is just starting to catch on at a few colleges, reports Inside Higher EdAsheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in North Carolina will issue grades and certificates for “soft skills,” such punctuality and teamwork, to help graduates find jobs.

Employers are complaining that new workers lack a strong work ethic, said Donald Claycomb, Linn State’s president. The college worked with industry partners to decide which skills to evaluate.

ACLU sues over college drug testing

Mandatory drug testing for new students at a Missouri two-year college has been blocked by a federal judge after the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit challenging the tests’ constitutionality.

Linn State Technical College claimed drug testing is a safety measure because some students study aircraft maintenance, heavy engine repair, nuclear technology and other risky fields.  All new students — and those returning after taking time off — are required to be tested, regardless of their major.

Tony Rothert, an attorney with the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, said that “suspicionless drug testing violates the Fourth Amendment,” which protects against unlawful searches and seizures. “This goes beyond what has been permitted before.”

Rothert cited cases where the U.S. Supreme Court allowed drug testing in schools, such as for students involved in extracurricular activities, “but nothing remotely like what’s happening here. We’re not aware of any high school that has this sort of drug testing, much less a college.”

The ACLU’s lawsuit asks the college to return the $50 fee the school charges students for the testing program.

Tech college requires student drug tests

Every new student must take a drug test at Linn State Technical College, a two-year public school in central Missouri. This appears to be most sweeping drug-testing policy at any public college or university in the U.S., reports AP.

School leaders say the tests, which they prefer to call drug screenings, are necessary to ensure student safety at a campus where the coursework includes aircraft maintenance, heavy engine repair, nuclear technology and other dangerous tasks. They surveyed hundreds of local employers, who overwhelmingly supported a requirement those same students will soon encounter in the job market, said Richard Pemberton, associate dean of student affairs.

“They’re going to be faced with this as they go into the drug-free workplace,” he said. “We want them to be prepared.”

However, the rule includes all first-year students, including those studying general education, accounting, communications, math, social sciences and physical therapy.

The tests screen for 11 drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and oxycodone. Students who test positive can stay in school while on probation but must test clean 45 days later to remain enrolled while also completing an online drug-prevention course or assigned to other, unspecified “appropriate activities,” according to the school’s written policy.

Students who initially test positive but then test negative a subsequent time will remain on probation for the rest of that semester and also face an unannounced follow-up test. The tests cost $50, a fee paid by students.

Linn State will end up in court if it doesn’t back down, said attorney Dan Viets, a member of the Missouri Civil Liberties Association. Mandatory drug testing is an unconstitutional search and a violation of students’ privacy, he said. “I don’t know why they think they can get away with it.”