Date of Award

Spring 2006

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

John M. Ritz

Committee Member

John E. Turner

Committee Member

Mark Q. Emick


Twenty-first century changes in the nature of work, the workforce and employment practices, along with increased employer need to select employees who will have the best "fit" with particular jobs in order to increase return on investment, are leading employers toward greater use of pre-employment assessments. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of one of those tools, the Work Keys skill assessment battery, on employment retention. Research questions centered around the effects of Work Keys testing on employment.

Job applicant assessment scores and retention information were obtained from and interviews were held with 12 employers who were utilizing Work Keys. Chi-square analysis comparing employees hired with and without Work Keys scores as a factor provided statistically significant results, indicating that use of Work Keys for job applicants did increase employment retention. Additional ANOVA and chi-square analyses of Work Keys applicants' test scores showed that only the Applied Mathematics assessment and CRC trio shared significant relationships with retention, and within those tests, individuals who scored in the low range of the scoring spread were least likely to retain employment. Analysis also determined that the use of additional assessments beyond the three used for the Career Readiness Certificate transportable credential significantly improved employment retention.

Qualitative analysis of interview responses from employers showed that they primarily elect to use pre-employment tests in order to increase objectivity and legality in their hiring practices. Their greatest concern about the use of testing is the increased possibility of screening out individuals who might otherwise have become excellent employees.

This research provides valuable information to employers in their selection and use of a testing instrument; however, further research is recommended to investigate other aspects of Work Keys, additional employment retention factors and other influences affecting corporate return on investment.


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