Tech Foundations: The hub of TCAT Elizabethton

Published 3:47 pm Tuesday, April 27, 2021

By Bob Robinson 
TCAT Elizabethton 
TCAT — The hub of TCAT Elizabethton operations is the Tech Foundations, nestled in a corner of the Administration Building. It has two computer labs and an office that serves the student population of approximately 3,000 students, plus about 200 new students each trimester. The spokes of the hub, figuratively speaking, serves students enrolled in full-time training programs and the general public. 
New students at TCAT Elizabethton, except students enrolled in online courses only, are tested within the first week of enrollment following orientation. Student skills are assessed using ACT Work Keys Curriculum. The interactive computer-based program focuses on Education in Workplace Documents, Graphic Literacy and Applied Mathematics.
“It is a means of assessing the achievement and aptitudes of students for various occupations and appropriate and is used to provide personalized counseling and program placement services to students,” said Tech Foundations Coordinator Lisa Blackburn.  
Blackburn, who has been with TCAT Elizabethton for more than two decades, is also a Registered Nurse who obtained her BSN credentials at ETSU. She oversees Tech Foundations as well as the online Dietary Manager Training Program. Rickie Glass is the test proctor who oversees the computerized testing. 
Tech Foundations is a program required of on campus students enrolled in each of the 13 full-time programs at TCAT Elizabethton. It is required by the Tennessee Board of Regents, the governing body of TCAT Elizabethton.  
If students do not make the required score of “5” they must do lessons to remediate and retake the quiz once they complete the review, according to Blackburn. 
“The program is designed to help students gain technical skills in reading, math, writing and locating information necessary to be gainfully employed,” Blackburn said. Each student has an individual schedule developed to meet individual learning objectives.
One of the more active tests is the HESI Exam used to evaluate and rank students for admission to the practical nursing program. Typically, there are three subtests that make up the academic portion of the exam — reading, math, and critical thinking. HESI may be waived for any student who has earned a prior degree, either associate or a bachelor’s degree. The official transcript must be provided for the waiver to be considered. 
Not to be confused with the HESI Exam, the HISET Exam is a high school diploma equivalency test approved by the State of Tennessee. Students are directed to for a copy of the HISET diploma.   
Other tests administered by the Tech Foundations include the National Healthcare Association Citification Exams, a national accredited certification for allied health professions. Tests include:   
–CPT (Certified Phlebotomy Technician);
–CMA (Certified Medical Administration Assistant);  
–CEHRS (Certified Electronic Health Record Specialist) and  
–CBCS (Certified Billing and Coding Specialist).  
Other tests in the Tech Foundations Lab include:
–NOCTI Teacher Testing (National Occupational Competency Testing Institute), which has over 50 technical areas; and,   
–ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence) is segmented by specialty, such as automobile, medium/heavy truck, truck equipment, school bus, collision repair and more. There are 40 plus ASE exams. 
Tech Foundations is tough on what students are permitted to use during the test phase. Paper, pencil, and a calculator will be provided.  
In the coming weeks, Tennessee middle school students are expected to become more aware of Career and Technical Education courses offered by the 27 TCATs across the state. Legislation, expected to be signed by the governor, requires seventh and eighth graders to be made aware of career and technical education programs available to them at TCATs. 
The prime sponsor of the legislation was Rep. Tim Hicks of Gray and Sen. Rusty Crowe of Johnson City. The information is to be provided in conjunction with the student’s Career Aptitude Assessment.
For additional information about Tech Foundations, visit or contact Blackburn at 423-543-0070, Ext. 1017. Her email address is 

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