Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The real score on the ACT

All over the news we're hearing the results of the latest round of ACT scores (Joanne Jocobs has a story) . Edwonk provides a recap of what Education Secretary Spellings had to say.
The ACT Assessment scores contain reasons for both optimism and action. We are heartened that scores remained steady even while the number of test-takers increased. Since 2001, the number of test-takers has increased by 11 percent, with Hispanic students up 40 percent and African American students up 23 percent.

But a deeper look at the data suggests that too many students remain unprepared for college. ACT's College Readiness Benchmarks show little or no improvement, particularly in math and science.
One of the reasons that there might be an increase in the number of students taking the test is that more states are now requiring the ACT for graduation. Michigan will begin requiring it for graduation in 2007. Colorado and Illinois already require it for graduation. See related article here. So when you realize that students who wouldn't normally take the test are now taking it, it makes perfect sense that participation would increase but scores would not.

The test is no longer just the ACT polling colleges and deciding what to put on the test. It is the ACT working with the government to determine what should be on the test based on what was taught. They have also added a work skills component.

As more and more states adopt the ACT as the test of choice replacing their state exams we will have a de facto national exam. This is a back door way of regulating curriculum without legislation. This is bad news for homeschoolers.

(Note: If your state requires ACT testing for graduation could you please let me know. I am doing an article on this issue and finding out what all 50 states require is time consuming and difficult. If you don't know if your state does it would be in your best interest to find out.)

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