New ACT test requirements drawing near

By By Nichole Osinski / American Press

The first ACT test date of 2013 took place Feb. 9. But it will be on March 19 that ACT scores will count for more than college readiness.

This is the first year that all Louisiana juniors will be required to take the ACT along with any seniors who have not yet

taken it. Test results will go toward School Performance Scores.

The state will pay for public school

students in grades 8-11 to take ACT tests beginning this year as part of

the Louisiana

Believes plan. Students’ test scores will used to determine

student progress and help schools prepare them for life post-high


BESE Board Member Holly Boffy said the state is also in the midst of shifting to the Common Core Standards as well as preparing

a test that may not be ready until the 2014-2015 school year.

“There has been research that once kids

take this test and do well on it that this puts them in a position to

consider options

they might not have considered before,” Boffy said. “As of now the

most rigorous test that exists is the ACT and so this gives

our high schools an idea of where the bar is with these new

standards and it’s the first step to move us to where we need

to be.”

Students in grades 8 through 10 will take ACT prep tests and high school juniors will be required to take the actual ACT test.

The tests cover five subjects areas — English, mathematics, reading, science and writing — to measure student achievement.

Students will receive individual scores for each subject as well as a composite score for all the subjects.

Students in eighth grade took the EXPLORE test — it is scored on a scale of 0 to 25 — in November and December 2012 while

ninth-graders will take the same test March 19. Tenth-graders will take the PLAN test, which is scored on a scale of 0 to

32, on March 19 as well. These ACT-type exams are used to measure students’ academic progress and help schools gather data about strong and weak subject areas.

“The EXPLORER and PLAN are just sort of

like benchmark predictors of how the student will score on the ACT if

they continue

to make academic progress,” Director of High School Curriculum Pat

Deaville said. “The state came up with a way of awarding

schools with bonus points if children actually met the

projections; it proves the schools actually did move the child forward

at the appropriate academic pace.”

Deaville said high schools are

implementing Response to Intervention to prepare students for testing

and help them improve

their scores. RTI is used to help students who are struggling in

certain subjects, and addressing the courses they are taking

by tracking progress and zeroing in on trouble areas.

The ACT scores, scored anywhere from

1 to 36, will count toward 25 percent of the School Performance Score

in high schools, with 2.8 points earned for each

one point increase in scores between 18 and 36. Schools can

receive additional points for students who improve with each series

of ACT tests.

Along with the ACT, School Performance

Scores can increase due to improvement in areas such as course

completion, state standardized

tests and class credits.

“I believe that this is going to give kids an opportunity to take the ACT test that never would have had the opportunity,”

Supervisor of Assessment Mary Lou Caldarera said. “I just don’t know if all of these students are ready to focus on an ACT

test when it is not tied to their grade or their ability to graduate from high school.”