ACT president: ‘Relax. Tests don’t define us, nor do they determine our future.’

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

ACT Says College Exam Scores Are Stagnant.

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. high schools haven’t shown much improvement in the past four years when it comes to preparing college-ready graduates, according to the Iowa-based nonprofit group that administers the ACT college entrance exam. LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky students improved but still lag behind national averages for ACT college-readiness benchmarks in four core subjects, with the biggest deficit in math scores.Note to high schoolers: If you want to do well on your ACTs, and then go on to succeed in college, take four years of English and at least three years each of math, social studies, and science.

The ACT, the nation’s most widely used college admission test, continues to expand its reach in Maryland, Virginia and several other states where the SAT’s dominance was long unchallenged.JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Mississippi’s ACT scores were flat last year, although a few more Magnolia State students are ready for college by the standards of the test.State Superintendent Tony Evers says college-bound students “did a fine job.” But the results found achievement gaps persist between students of color and their white peers.

The group says only about 40 percent of graduating high school students who took the ACT exam this year show a “strong readiness” for college in most subject areas. The trend is also true for Illinois and across the nation, prompting those in charge of the test to say the lack of progress should be a wake-up call for the country. “The needle is barely moving on college and career readiness, and that means far too many young people will continue to struggle after they graduate from high school,” said Jon Whitmore, ACT’s chief executive officer. The Nebraska Education Department says in the report released Wednesday that Nebraska’s average ACT composite score was 21.5 — five-tenths of a point higher than the national average of 21.0 out of a possible score of 36.

They had hoped for better results from the relatively small segment of test takers who are largely a self-selected group of students who are motivated to get to college. “I find it really disturbing,” said Mark Schneider, a vice president at American Institutes for Research who previously directed the federal government’s education research arm. The 2015 results consist of scores in English, math, reading and science for students who graduated this past spring at both public and private schools. The five states with the best ACT scores, along with the percentage of students tested: Connecticut, 24.4 average composite score, 32%; Massachusetts, 24.4, 28%; New Hampshire, 24.3, 23%; Maine, 24.2, 10%; New York, 23.7, 28%. Across the country, the class of 2015 stagnated, with 40% of the 1.9 million test takers showing what the organization calls “strong readiness,” according to results released Wednesday. The data also shows negligible changes among ethnic groups since 2011, with white and Asian American students still dramatically outperforming other ethnicities.

The “Condition of College & Career Readiness 2015” report found that less than half of ACT test takers last year earned scores that showed what it termed “strong” readiness for college. Judy Pritchett, chief academic officer for the Macomb Intermediate School District, said the ACT results are just one piece of data schools look at to evaluate their curriculum.

But it can have big consequences for students. “It is a door opener for some kids, either to get into college or more importantly to qualify for some kind of financial assistance,” Pritchett said. The benchmarks are defined as the minimum score students need to get on ACT subject tests to have a 75 percent chance of earning a C or higher in a typical first-year college course in that subject area. — Asian students outperformed all other ethnic groups in math and science, with 69 percent of Asian students taking the ACT meeting its college readiness standard in math and 57 percent in science. Unlike most states, Kentucky tests all its students even if they don’t plan on attending college, which lowers Kentucky’s overall ACT scores, state educational officials have said. “We need to ask the existing teachers ‘What training do you need?’ and keep providing that,” Holliday said. “And we need to really change our teacher preparation programs to better meet the expectations of the math standards.” Eighty-nine percent of Kentucky’s 2014 ACT-tested graduating class wanted to enroll in classes beyond high school but 57 percent actually did, it said.

It is hard to accomplish both on a broad scale because when more students take a test, especially those with educational disadvantages, very often average scores are weighed down. The report said if that “aspirational gap” had been fully closed, an additional 15,547 Kentucky students would have enrolled in postsecondary schools. Selective colleges nationwide accept either test. (Some don’t require any test scores.) Students will often take both to learn which one suits them best. Proponents of the ACT-for-all idea say having everyone take the test paints a more conclusive picture of overall student achievement and may encourage a student to apply for college who otherwise wouldn’t.

Poverty can have a profound effect on education — but income inequality by itself does not explain educational disparities, according to Ryan Smith, the director of Education Trust-West. “Race does play a factor in student achievement. Some northeastern states with high average scores have relatively few students take the ACT because the SAT is the dominant college test in that region.

It’s not just an issue of class,” Smith said. “It’s a conversation that is lacking, particularly among education leaders.” “My national concern is that those gaps aren’t closing rapidly,” Erickson said. “I’d say the same thing for California. Black students in Missouri averaged a 17.3 composite score, while white students had a 22.6. “We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of U.S. high school graduates who won’t earn a two- or four-year college degree because they aren’t academically prepared to do so,” Whitmore said. “We simply must do better. That’s one reason more colleges have announced test-optional policies; they’ll accept scores from applicants but don’t require them. (Here are 10 great colleges that are now test-optional.) In California, Common Core test results will be released in September, officials say, but even those numbers will not show progress — rather, as the first set of scores, they will set a baseline for future performance. Although test scores are a source of anxiety for parents and the public, what is often lost is that they measure probability, said Anthony Carnevale, a Georgetown University professor who researches workforce skills and a former vice president of the Educational Testing Service.

Similar arrangements enable public school students in the District and a handful of states — including, soon, Connecticut and New Hampshire — to take the SAT for free.

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