What the ACT college readiness assessment means

25 Aug

Moi wrote about the ACT assessment of “college readiness” in ACT to assess college readiness for 3rd-10th Grades:

Carlalee Adams writes in the Education Week article, ACT to Roll Out Career and College Readiness Tests for 3rd-10th Grades:

ACT Inc. announced today that it is developing a new series of assessments for every grade level, from 3rd through 10th, to measure skills needed in college and careers…. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/college_bound/2012/07/act_plans_to_roll_out_career_and_college_readiness_tests_for_3rd-10th_grades.html?intc=es

There is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is only what works to produce academic achievement in each population of children. That is why school choice is so important.

There must be a way to introduce variation into the education system. The testing straightjacket is strangling innovation and corrupting the system. Yes, there should be a way to measure results and people must be held accountable, but relying solely on tests, especially when not taking into consideration where different populations of children are when they arrive at school is lunacy. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/act-to-assess-college-readiness-for-3rd-10th-grades/

Huffington Post reports in the article, ACT Results Show 60 Percent Of 2012 High School Graduates Are At Risk Of Struggling In College, Career::

Sixty percent of 2012 high school graduates are at risk of struggling in college and a career, according to the ACT’s The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2012 report released Wednesday. The annual report takes into consideration scores earned by graduating seniors who took the ACT college and career readiness exam, which this year amounted to more than 1.66 million students, or a record 52 percent of the entire U.S. graduating class.

According to a statement, 28 percent of ACT-tested 2012 graduates did not meet any of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in English, mathematics, reading and science — a statistic that also held true in 2011. These benchmarks are empirically derived and based on actual grades ACT-tested students earned in college. The corresponding ACT benchmarks for English, reading, math and science are 18, 21, 22 and 24, respectively. Each of the four sections are scored out of 36 and averaged to determine a final composite score.

Fifteen percent of students met only one of the benchmarks, with a comparable 17 percent satisfying two. In total, 60 percent of test takers met no more than two of the four benchmarks, with only 25 percent of graduates hitting all four — on par with last year’s numbers. http://act.org/newsroom/data/2012/pdf/NationalNewsRelease2012.pdf

Here is a portion of the ACT press release:

HOLD FOR RELEASE until 3 a.m. Eastern, Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August 22, 2012

60 Percent of 2012 High School Graduates At Risk of Not Succeeding in College and Career

ACT® Exam Results Point to Need for Early Monitoring and Intervention

Readiness in Math and Science Improving Slightly

IOWA CITY, Iowa—Success in college and career is at risk for at least 60 percent of likely college-bound 2012 U.S. high school graduates, according to nonprofit ACT’s newly released report, The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2012. The annual report focuses on the scores earned by graduating seniors who took the ACT college and career readiness exam—this year a record 52 percent of the U.S. graduating class.

More than a fourth (28 percent) of ACT-tested 2012 graduates did not meet any of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in English, mathematics, reading and science, suggesting they are likely to struggle in first-year college courses in all four of those subject areas. Another 15 percent met only one of the benchmarks, while 17 percent met just two. In short, a total of 60 percent of test takers met no more than two of the four benchmarks. In comparison, only 25 percent of tested 2012 grads met all four ACT benchmarks, unchanged from last year.

Far too many high school graduates are still falling short academically,” said ACT Chief Executive Officer Jon Whitmore. “We need to do more to ensure that our young people improve. The advanced global economy requires American students to perform at their highest level to compete in the future job market and maintain the long-term economic security of the U.S.”

ACT’s empirically derived College Readiness Benchmarks are based on actual grades earned in college by ACT-tested students. They specify the minimum score needed on each of the four ACT subject tests to indicate that a student has a 75 percent chance of earning a grade of C or higher or a 50 percent chance of earning a B or higher in a typical credit-bearing first-year college course in that subject area. ACT continually updates its research to ensure that the benchmarks are reflective of college success.

College readiness levels remain particularly low among African American and Hispanic students. None of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks were met by more than half of students in those racial/ethnic groups. In contrast, the majority of Asian American and white students met or surpassed the benchmarks in all areas except science.

Many states have already taken steps to address deficiencies in college and career readiness.

There is significant work going on here in Alabama, as well as the other states, to implement a set of high-quality academic expectations that define the knowledge and skills students should master by the end of each grade level in order to be on track for success in college and career,” said Alabama Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice. “This ACT report affirms the reason why we are moving our state work toward a new goal of college and career preparedness for all students. As we embark on this new trajectory, we will work through our local school districts to ensure they are equipped with the very best tools and resources to accelerate student success.”

Importance of Early Monitoring and Intervention

ACT research points to the importance of early monitoring and intervention to identify students who are at risk.

Our research supports what many educators and parents have long suspected—that the best way to help our students prepare for successful futures is by monitoring their achievement, academic behaviors and goals starting early in their academic careers and providing appropriate help whenever we find they are not on track for success,” said Whitmore….

Gap Between Career Interests and Projected Job Openings

The ACT data point to a disconnect between the types of careers that graduates are interested in pursuing and the types of jobs likely to be available to them. The percentage of ACT-tested graduates interested in careers in the five fastest growing fields according to the U.S. Department of Labor—education, computer/information specialties, community services, management and marketing/sales—was less than the projected demand for workers in each case…

Record Number of Test Takers

ACT score results are increasingly reflective of the state of learning in the U.S. with each passing year. More than 1.66 million 2012 graduates—52 percent of the entire U.S. graduating class—took the ACT, including virtually all students in nine states. This represents a record level of participation for the eighth consecutive year.

The testing population is also becoming increasingly diverse and representative in terms of race and ethnicity. The current proportions of African American (13 percent) and Hispanic/Latino (14 percent) students in the ACT testing pool closely match those in the general U.S. population.

The full national report and each state ACT report can be viewed and downloaded for free on ACT’s website at the following URL: http://www.act.org/readiness/2012.

# # #

About ACT

ACT is an independent, nonprofit organization with a 53-year history of generating data-driven assessments and research. Headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa, and with offices throughout the world, ACT is trusted for its continual development of next-generation assessments that determine college and career readiness and provide the most advanced measure of workplace skills. To learn more about ACT, go to http://www.act.org.

Contact:

Ed Colby or Scott Gomer, ACT Public Relations

319.337.1028; ed.colby@act.org; scott.gomer@act.org

ACT has information at their site, Understand your scores:

How ACT figures the multiple-choice test scores and the Composite score

  1. First we count the number of questions on each test that you answered correctly. We do not deduct any points for incorrect answers. (There is no penalty for guessing.)
  2. Then we convert your raw scores (number of correct answers on each test) to “scale scores.” Scale scores have the same meaning for all the different forms of the ACT, no matter which test date a test was taken.
  3. Your Composite score and each test score (English, Mathematics, Reading, Science) range from 1 (low) to 36 (high). The Composite Score is the average of your four test scores, rounded to the nearest whole number. Fractions less than one-half are rounded down; fractions one-half or more are rounded up.
  4. We compute your seven subscores (Usage/Mechanics, Rhetorical Skills, etc.) in the same way, but subscores range from 1 (low) to 18 (high). There is no direct, arithmetic relationship between your subscores and your test scores—this means your subscores don’t add up to your test score….
  5. If you want to know more about what your test scores can tell you about the skills you are likely to know and what you are likely to be able to do in each content area measured by the ACT, see ACT College Readiness Standards. http://www.actstudent.org/scores/understand/

The ACT test highlights the failure of schools to teach critical thinking skills.

In Critical thinking is an essential trait of an educated person, moi said:

There is a great deal of dissatisfaction with the state of education in America. A lot of that dissatisfaction comes from the belief that the education system fails to actually educate children and to teach them critical thinking skills. The University of Maine at Augusta defines an educated person:

An educated person exhibits knowledge and wisdom; recognizes and respects the diversity of nature and society; demonstrates problem solving skills; engages in planning and managing practices; navigates the on-line world; writes and speaks well; acts with integrity; and appreciates the traditions of art, culture, and ideas. Developing these abilities is a life-long process. http://www.uma.edu/educatedperson.html

Essential to this definition is the development of critical thinking skills.

The Critical Thinking Community has several great articles about critical thinking at their site. In the section, Defining Critical Thinking:

A Definition
Critical thinking is that mode of thinking – about any subject, content, or problem – in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them.

The Result

A well cultivated critical thinker:

  • raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and
    precisely;

  • gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to
    interpret it effectively comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;

  • thinks openmindedly within alternative systems of thought,
    recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and

  • communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.

Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.  (Taken from Richard Paul and Linda Elder, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, Foundation for Critical Thinking Press, 2008). http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/defining-critical-thinking/766

The question is how to teach critical thinking skills. David Carnes wrote the excellent Livestrong article, How to Build Critical Thinking Skills in Children. http://www.livestrong.com/article/167563-how-to-build-critical-thinking-skills-in-children/#ixzz1kB28AgFS

Related:

Is a woman’s college the right college for you? https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/is-a-womans-college-the-right-college-for-you/

Georgetown University study: Even in a depression, college grads enjoy advantage                                           https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/georgetown-university-study-even-in-a-depression-college-grads-enjoy-advantage/

Report: For-profit colleges more concerned with executive pay than student achievement                                    https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/report-for-profit-colleges-more-concerned-with-executive-pay-than-student-achievement/

What , if anything, do education tests mean? https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/what-if-anything-do-education-tests-mean/

Complete College America report: The failure of remediation https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/complete-college-america-report-the-failure-of-remediation/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

15 Responses to “What the ACT college readiness assessment means”

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