ACT announced recently it will expand its assessment reach to students across K12. ACT’s “next generation” of assessments, as it is called, will assess students in grades 3 to 12 beginning in 2014 and then expand to include all students, beginning in kindergarten. The plan was met with mixed reviews from those resistant to more testing. However, with the latest 2012 ACT score results, released Aug. 22, revealing that 60 percent of graduates are not prepared for college and careers, the additional assessments seem to have merit.
Although a record-breaking 52 percent of graduating U.S. students took the ACT this year, 28 percent of those tested did not meet the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, which are in English, mathematics, reading and science. Another 15 percent only met one benchmark, and 17 percent only met two. The results suggest that these students will struggle with these subjects in their first year of college.
ACT officials says the results show the need for early monitoring and intervention. “Starting earlier is key to helping improve more drastically the college and career readiness of our graduates,” says Ed Colby, ACT spokesman. “Once students are not on track, they will have a very difficult time making up ground that they’ve lost.”
The “next generation” of assessments is intended to do just that. The assessments will be aligned with the Common Core State Standards, but they will go further by assessing science, language arts and math. The ACT standards will also be linked to ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks, which are aligned with international standards, including the Programme for International Student Assessment. The assessments will be optional and will be modular so that states and districts can use them for particular grades or subject areas.
While preparing students for college and career readiness is important, the 2012 ACT results also revealed a gap between career interests and project job openings. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the five fastest-growing fields are education, computer and information specialties, community service, management, and marketing and sales. ACT reported that the interest level of graduating high school seniors in these fields was less than the demand for each.To learn more visit www.act.org.
Marion Herbert is a contributing writer.