ACT has a full suite of tests to assess where a student’s achievement is in relation to the college- and career-ready standard benchmarks developed by ACT.
These tests (plus the QualityCore End-of-Course tests for Algebra I and English 10) replace the Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test (ARMT) and the Alabama High School Graduation Exam.
ACT Aspire is given to students in grades 3 through 8.
- Reading and Math tests will be given during the time period of April 28 to May 23. Districts determine when tests are given.
- Each of these two tests takes approximately an hour.
- Reading and Math are the only state-required tests.
- School districts can choose to give tests in Science, Writing, and English at no cost to the district.
Take the time to look through this presentation from the March SBOE work session which contains sample reports that will be given to parents and teachers.
Approximately 240 Alabama schools piloted the ACT Aspire last spring. ACT Aspire began full administration across 33 states April 2.
Check out ACT Aspire’s Facebook page for more information.
The ACT Plus Writing
The ACT Plus Writing, the standard college entrance exam, will be taken by ALL 11th graders in Alabama on April 23. The makeup day is May 7.
According to ACT’s website, the following 14 states (including Alabama) require all high school students to take The ACT. It is unclear whether the Writing portion is required in states other than Alabama. And it should be noted that Alabama isn’t actually listed as requiring The ACT, so this list may be a bit out of date.
- Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Wyoming
78% of Alabama’s graduating class of 2013 took The ACT. When 100% of Alabama’s public school 11th graders take The ACT this spring, it is likely that scores will drop. Please read this thoughtful consideration of the likelihood of a drop in test scores. We need to be certain we interpret test results in the proper context.
Take a look at this table on ACT’s web site and pay particular attention to the first column, containing the percentage of students who took The ACT in that state.
QualityCore End-of-Course (EOC) Tests – Algebra I and English 10
These two tests are the ones that technically replaced the Alabama High School Graduation Exam (AHSGE). EOC tests were first given last spring. During the 2012-2013 school year, EOC tests did not count as part of a student’s grade.
EOC tests are given within four weeks of the end of the term.
When Did the Tests Change?
The State Board of Education (SBOE) adopted ACT’s full suite of tests in April 2013, becoming the first state in the country to do so. To date, no other states have adopted the full suite.
This spring will mark the first statewide administration of the ACT Aspire in grades 3 through 8 as well as the first time all 11th graders will take The ACT Plus Writing. The EOC tests were first given during the 2012-2013 school year.
What Is the “Full Suite” of ACT Tests?
ACT Aspire (grades 3 – 8)
ACT EXPLORE (grade 8)
ACT PLAN (grade 10)
The ACT Test (grade 11)
ACT WorkKeys (grade 12) – begins in 2014-2015
QualityCore End-of-Course Tests (Algebra I and English 10)
What Do the Next Few Years Look Like for Testing?
This chart has changed many times since April 2013. It may change again, particularly since ACT announced it will discontinue the EXPLORE and PLAN tests at the end of this school year, extending the ACT Aspire through the 10th grade. But here’s what it looks like right now.
Why Are the Media in Such a Frenzy About This?
State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice held a press “chat” on Wednesday afternoon after the State Board of Education (SBOE) meeting where he introduced the ACT suite of assessments to the media.
— AL Dept of Education (@AlabamaDeptofEd) April 9, 2014
Minutes earlier, Bice read a lengthy resolution (interestingly named the “Push Back Resolution” on the meeting documents page) about the assessment system being rolled out this spring. After all of the “whereas”es, the SBOE resolved the following:
1. That the results from the inaugural administration of the ACT Aspire, et al. will be used solely to inform parents of their child’s trajectory toward college and career readiness and to inform the instructional practice of teachers so instructional adjustments can be made to meet the needs of their students.
2. That the results from the inaugural administration of the ACT Aspire, et al will not be used by the State to label or categorize a school system, individual school, school leader or classroom teacher.
3. That statewide reporting required by the U. S. Department of Education, the Alabama Legislature, and others as required by federal law and Alabama statutes will be done in the aggregate and by subgroups to determine trends and areas in need of improvement that will, subsequently, inform the work of the Alabama State Department of Education.
Here is the full 37-minute chat with the media.
Check out ACT Aspire’s web site for more information about the actual test.