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Principals Are Committed to Social and Emotional Learning

A new research report indicates principals across the U.S. recognize the importance of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in student development but need better ways to assess and measure SEL skills and greater support and training for their teachers to make their SEL initiatives successful.

The report—from Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) prepared by Civic Enterprises with Hart Research Associates entitled Ready to Lead: A National Principal Survey on How Social and Emotional Learning Can Prepare Children and Transform Schools—is organized into four areas:

  1. Attitudes about SEL
  2. SEL implementation
  3. The path to increased SEL
  4. Assessing SEL

In a recent blog, ACT Consultant, Jonathan Martin breaks the findings down into two key points: What do principals already know and do, and what do they need to be more effective?

Learning Opportunities for You and Your Staff

How you use and connect with ACT data changes based on your role as an education professional.

ACT provides robust reporting that delivers a wealth of information to guide critical decisions for everything from curriculum development to student intervention strategies. We have created a series of webinars tailored to administrators, counselors, and teachers to demonstrate how each role can get the most from ACT reporting.

Administrators: Leading Your School or District Using the ACT Profile Report
Learn about the data available in the ACT Profile Report and how school and district leaders can use this data to improve student readiness

Counselors: Impacting Students Using the ACT High School Report
An overview of the ACT High School Report and how counselors can use the data to discuss student academic achievement and help students plan for life after high school

Teachers: Connecting the ACT Profile Report to your Curriculum
Explore what gets tested on the ACT, learn how the ACT College and Career Readiness Standards describe students’ skills at different levels of readiness, and use the ACT Profile Report to understand the current level of performance of students in your school

There are several webinar offerings March 6–April 18. Sign up today and encourage your staff to attend. 

Best Practices

Senior Retake Day: Open New Doors of Opportunity

ACT Composite scores in Tennessee are on the rise. The Tennessee Department of Education set a goal to raise the average ACT Composite score for public school students to 21, the current national average, by 2020. “As we work toward our goal of a statewide average, we see opportunities like the ACT Senior Retake Day moving our students one step closer,” said Candice McQueen, Education Department Commissioner.

“The growth path developed by the Tennessee Department of Education outlined yearly score increases necessary to achieving their goal. From 2011 to 2015 the average ACT Composite score for Tennessee public students grew from 19.0 to 19.4. With the implementation of senior retesting, Tennessee moved ahead of their path to reaching a statewide average of 21.”

The ACT Senior Retake Day is a state-paid opportunity for seniors to raise their ACT score by taking the test for a second time during regular school hours. All public school seniors—regardless of whether or not they participated in the state’s junior test administration—may participate on the retake day. And, all seniors who were enrolled in Tennessee public schools as juniors are automatically registered for the retake.

Generating Excitement for the ACT: The Arkansas ‘No Limits’ Campaign

In spring 2017, the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) started paying for all high school juniors in the state to take the ACT® test. One year later, the ADE launched a new campaign—called “No Limits”—to encourage students to use test prep resources and to take the assessment more than once.

Since the state has decided to invest in the ACT for all of our juniors, we really need to get information out to our schools to make sure they realize that this is an opportunity. This isn’t just another test,” said Stacy Smith, Assistant Commissioner of Learning Services.

The “No Limits” campaign launched in January with a song written and performed by an Arkansas student and a video starring Arkansas students. All Arkansas public high schools were encouraged to show the video to their juniors prior to taking the exam in February, and students were encouraged to share the video on social media using the hashtag #NoLimitsAR. Additionally, every high school received a mailer the first week in February with informational posters, banners, and a checklist of each step school staff take leading up to testing. The ADE also prepared a presentation and lesson plans for teachers to help students understand and prepare for the test, identify schools they may be interested in, and complete the ACT Interest Inventory.

Communicating with students in positive and fun ways can redefine their attitudes about college readiness testing and the opportunities it provides. For Arkansas, this campaign has had a positive reception and has shown students that by taking and retaking the ACT test, their future has no limits.  

For readymade communication tools from ACT, visit our product pages.

Professional Development

Evening the Odds for College-Bound Students: Applying a Holistic Approach to Career and College Readiness Curricula

Learn how the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) used the ACT® Holistic Framework™ to design and develop an improved version of the Career & College ClubsSM (CCC) curriculum. (Duration: 60 min)

How ACT Data Impacts Student and School Achievement

March 6–April 18

Learn how to understand and interpret ACT results, according to your specific role. 

Upcoming Dates

ACT District Testing Registration

Deadline: June 22, 2018

ACSD Conference

March 24-26, 2018
Boston Convention and Exhibition Center
Boston, Massachusetts

The conference for EVERY Educator
ACT Booth: 1943

Schedule a meeting today with ACT!

National Catholic Education Association 2018 Convention and Expo

April 3-5, 2018
Duke Energy Convention Center
Cincinnati, Ohio

ACT Booth: 937

Schedule a meeting today with ACT!

Research Spotlight

ACT Releases STEM Report 2017

STEM Education in the U.S.: Where We Are and What We Can Do

ACT’s annual STEM reports provide essential national data on student interest and achievement in STEM subjects.

We're committed to sharing useful information with a wide range of stakeholders to help inform their efforts to improve individuals’ education and workplace success. Learn more about STEM 2017.

Merit-Based Scholarships: The ACT vs. SAT Advantage

A recent study, by Edmit and Princeton Review, on test score requirements for merit-based scholarships at public universities has identified that some scholarships provide an advantage to students taking the ACT or SAT. 

Of the 100 scholarships offered at 58 flagship/prominent schools using ACT/SAT scores:

  • 34 scholarships favor the ACT
  • 15 scholarships favor the SAT

The goal of the research study was to identify how many of these schools award merit aid using ACT and SAT scores and to compare those scores to see whether students have an advantage applying with one score over the other. The report identifies two key findings:

  • Test scores are not only about gaining admission. They also play a role in merit aid.
  • Students should take both ACT and the SAT. Why? To take advantage of any gaps that might exist in the cut scores many schools use to award merit aid.

Researchers also reached out to high school counselor Leslie Trundy in Bath Maine, who was the focus of an ACT story on the higher merit aid her students would be awarded for their ACT scores. “One student ranked 3rd in her class would have received no merit aid with her SAT score but she won an offer of $6,000/year with her ACT score,” wrote Trundy in an email. 

In the Works

ACT Academy Launches This Spring

ACT® Academy™, a free personalized online learning tool and test practice program, will be open to students March 22, 2018.
Learn more at

ACT Academy will provide students with engaging content and materials developed by ACT, Khan Academy, NASA, PBS and other learning organizations in one convenient place. Students receive the resources that have been proven to be most effective for each skill. It will include the high-quality materials of OpenEd, the leading online resource library for K-12 teachers.

ACT Academy will be compatible with all devices and will allow students to work on building their skills anytime, anywhere they have internet access. Parents, teachers, and counselors can also use ACT Academy to help students study and learn.

Product Spotlight

District Testing

Registration for ACT Fall District Testing is now open and due by June 22, 2018.

Participation in ACT District testing provides your students with the opportunity to assess their level of college readiness and get a college reportable score in a familiar environment. Having all students participate also raises college awareness among underserved students, rather than only self-selected, college-bound students.