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ACT District Testing: Enrollment Deadline Extended!

School districts interested in participating in the ACT District Testing now have until January 19, 2018 to enroll for the Spring Administration of the ACT® test.

One of the primary benefits of using the ACT in successive years is the longitudinal data schools receive about the college and career readiness of its students. This data allow districts to make informed curriculum decisions and create data-driven intervention strategies.

District Testing: Key Dates and Deadlines

Test Sessions Dates (Paper) Dates (online) NEW Enrollment Deadline
Late Spring 2018 April 3, 2018 (initial)
April 24, 2018 (makeup)
April 3-5, 2018
April 10-12, 2018
January 19, 2018


The program benefits students in your school district in a number of ways:

  • It provides them with free college-reportable ACT scores that they can use to apply to colleges and for financial aid and scholarships.
  • It provides them with personalized information to explore college and career options based on their individual strengths and interests.
  • It encourages them to consider the option of attending college, particularly for students who may not have seriously considered this option previously.

Additional details are available at www.act.org/district-testing

Use the ACT College and Career Readiness Standards Poster to Improve Student Test Scores

During this year’s College and Career Readiness Workshops, we heard educators say they now understand the College and Career Readiness Standards poster and want more to hang in the math and English departments.

ACT College and Career Readiness Standards posters for the 2017–2018 school year are available to order—including one for STEM with math and science standards, and one for ELA with English, reading, and writing standards. Posters contain a chart showing the relation among ACT score ranges, subject domains, standards, and ACT College and Career Readiness Benchmarks.

Posters can be used to:

  • Relate test scores to the skills needed in high school and beyond
  • Communicate widely shared learning goals and expectations
  • Understand the increasing complexity of skills needed across the score ranges in English, mathematics, reading, science, and writing

For example, if a student scores a 19 on the math assessment, educators can use the poster to quickly identify what specific skill knowledge (e.g., write positive powers of 10 by using exponents, solve routine first-degree equations, locate points in the coordinate plane) is needed to help that student increase his or her score on the ACT test. 

You can learn more about how to use these posters by downloading the infographic.

ACT College and Career Readiness Standards are empirically derived descriptions of the essential skills and knowledge students need to become ready for college and career, giving clear meaning to test scores and serving as a link between what students have learned and what they are ready to learn next. The standards encompass the many paths available to students after high school, and they reflect our ability to provide insights related to both college and career readiness. 

Communicate with Students, Parents, and Colleagues about Measuring Social-Emotional Learning

To help schools communicate the importance of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) assessments to staff, students, and parents, ACT has developed a communications toolkit for ACT Tessera™—the comprehensive next-generation assessment system designed to measure SEL skills. This toolkit includes:

  • Email communications to students, parents, and educators that quickly explain ACT Tessera
  • Engaging social media images for sharing from your school’s accounts
  • PowerPoint slides to educate your staff on the ACT Tessera assessment, reports, and curriculum
  • A flyer explaining the value of ACT Tessera in a simple, easy-to-understand hand-out

Find the toolkit and other resources about ACT Tessera on our website.

ACT Tessera provides assessments to help K-12 educators measure and evaluate 6-12th grade students’ SEL skills, determine their strengths and areas for improvement, and identify interventions to help them succeed.

Apply to be an ACT K-12 Champion!

Applications are open for the ACT K-12 Champion Award! The ACT K-12 Champion is an individual who has created or led a program that positively impacts their organization and community through improved readiness for college and career opportunities. ACT K-12 Champions receive state-level recognition, a certificate, and a plaque.

The following criteria are required to apply:

  • Full-time employee at a K-12 school or district in any role
  • Individual’s program or initiative promotes college and career readiness, particularly for underrepresented students
  • Examples of potential applicants include teachers, counselors, support staff, principals, curriculum directors, intervention specialists, and district administrators

Applications can be found at www.act.org/readinesschampions. Applications are due December 31, 2017, and champions will be notified on or before April 2, 2018.

Dual Enrollment Programs Improve College and Career Readiness for Students

Dual enrollment is an increasingly popular model of collaboration between K–12 and postsecondary education institutions. With the assistance of national education organizations, ACT is working to increase the number of eligible high school students in dual enrollment programs across the nation.

On November 13, ACT organized dual enrollment and college and career readiness discussions in Washington, DC between the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and AASA, the School Superintendents Association. The meeting was part of an ongoing dialogue about successful dual enrollment programs, public policy, funding, credit transferability, and building a culture of college aspiration at high schools.

As a research driven organization, ACT is studying how dual enrollment programs affect college readiness. Research, published in Dual Credit/Dual Enrollment Coursework, shows that high school graduates who enter college with credits from dual enrollment are more likely to succeed in college, including completing a bachelor’s degree in less time, than are students who enter college without such credits. Therefore, those who are eligible for these courses should be encouraged to enroll. Findings from The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2017 report suggest that more students may be prepared for dual enrollment programs. According to the report, 41 percent of students who took the ACT were ready for college-level math and 37 percent were ready for college-level science. Overall, 27 percent were ready in all four subject areas (English, math, reading, and science).

Participation in dual enrollment programs exposes students to more rigorous courses, college-level instruction, and the ability to explore programs with the potential to strengthen their familiarity with crucial determinants of both college and workplace success. “I think it is absolutely important for students to feel ready for the college experience, to have it while in high school, and to ensure the fact that they are able to handle the curriculum as they move forward in their educational pipeline,” said Melinda Gandara, faculty at Santa Barbara City College.

The Wallace State Community College Early College dual enrollment program, started 10 years ago, provides 75 students per year with college and high school course instruction. The program emphasizes readiness for college, work, and life, and its specific priorities include increasing college going, emphasizing workforce development, and accelerating completion.

“[W]e established a public–private partnership with the local Chamber of Commerce...They sponsor an annual career fair with all area high schools; in addition to that, they teach a Keeping It Real financial literacy program with business and industry partners. And we also provide paid summer internships for academic teachers in high schools to spend time in local industry [to gain an] understanding [of] the kinds of jobs that are available to students in our community.” Vicki Karolewics, President, Wallace State Community College.

ACT continues to work with federal and state policymakers and education organizations to ensure that all eligible students have the opportunity, at as little cost to them as possible, to earn college credit from qualified instructors in high-quality dual enrollment programs. For more information, read the ACT dual enrollment policy brief

Professional Development Opportunities

Considering the Whole Student: Better Preparation for Success

In this free, recorded webinar, learn about a new educational model that better prepares students for college and career success.

Does Teaching SEL Make a Difference?

In this free, recorded webinar, learn how East High School in Salt Lake City Utah put theory to practice and implemented SEL instruction for its growing and diverse student population.

Best Practices

The Key to Meeting Unique Challenges at a Utah School: Social-Emotional Skills

East High School in Salt Lake City, Utah knows diversity. Located in a sanctuary city, the school educates a large number of undocumented refugees, with 43 languages spoken in its hallways and socio-economic backgrounds ranging from wealthy to homeless (over 60 percent of students use the free-and-reduced-lunch program).

East High’s unique student population multiplies the challenges of preparing students for college and work. The solution: relying heavily on teaching and assessing social-emotional learning (SEL) skills, which has made a “night-and-day difference,” according to Principal Greg Maughan. “Teaching SEL transforms the relationship between adults and students.”

East High pioneered an SEL-based curriculum, titled “Techniques for Tough Times.” The credit-bearing course is led by teacher Leigh VandenAkker, who co-authored a book of the same name. The yearlong class equips students with skills required throughout their lives, focusing on a different skill set each quarter:

  • First quarter: Problem-solving skills and responsibility
  • Second quarter: Managing and taking responsibility for emotions
  • Third quarter: How communication affects relationships
  • Fourth quarter: Becoming global thinkers

The course incorporates ACT Tessera™ assessments, which measure students’ progress in these behavioral skills. Tessera results are also used in professional development, helping teachers identify social and emotional areas for improvement in what they teach.

“It empowers teachers, and they feel uplifted because they’re learning from their students as well,” said VandenAkker.

Hundreds of students take the Techniques class each year, and East High is pleased with the results. Tessera results show that students score higher than the national average in all six constructs measured by Tessera, with 72% scoring higher in Teamwork/Cooperation and 65% scoring higher in Curiosity/Ingenuity. Maughan says SEL skills also make students more engaged and thoughtful learners. “Kids are now used to lightning-speed access to information,” he said. “It’s important we not only help students gain access to that information, but give them the skills to synthesize that content in a way that’s deeper and meaningful. Being able to blend content knowledge into communication and collaboration skills helps students cross the threshold into success.” 

Upcoming Dates

National Conference on Education

February 15–17, 2018
Nashville,TN
Education in the Digital Age

ACT Aspire

Summative Spring 2018
Registration Deadline: December 16, 2017

The ACT

2018 Late Spring Testing Period
Registration Deadline: January 19, 2018

Research Spotlight

ELA Readiness Benchmark Added to ACT Score Reports

Beginning in the 2017–2018 school year, students who take the ACT test with writing will have an ELA Benchmark indicator on their ACT score report.

Providing students and educators with an indicator of ELA readiness will help ensure literacy skills are developed prior to entering college. If provided early enough, educators can take preemptive action to help students who intend to attend college but are not yet prepared for college-level coursework, thereby preventing the need for remedial courses.

As established by ACT research, students meeting the ELA Benchmark—an ELA score of 20—have at least a 50% chance of earning a grade of B or higher in a typical ELA-related, first-year college course. Moreover, the study demonstrated that meeting the ELA Benchmark is associated with greater chances of earning a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher over time, persisting in college, and earning a college degree.

Establishing the ELA Readiness Benchmark for the ACT test allows for the development of ACT Aspire® Benchmarks for earlier grades. Early grade readiness benchmarks can be linked to the ACT ELA Benchmark, providing an early signal to students and educators on their ELA readiness to develop intervention initiatives well before they enter high school and graduate high school.  

Product Spotlight

Understanding Student Progress in Early High School

PreACT® is a multiple choice assessment designed to give tenth graders experience with the ACT and provides a predicted score on the ACT® test. Recently, ACT reached out to educators using PreACT in their schools to learn about their experience.

“I enjoyed it from beginning to end, and I will use this test from now on! The training was user-friendly, the reporting was fast, and the data was easy to understand for parents,” said one customer survey respondent.

PreACT data can help support strategic conversations and facilitate a deeper understanding of overall student progress. Schools can use report data to:

  • Make important dual enrollment decisions
  • Identify curriculum gaps
  • Implement interventions for all students
  • Evaluate patterns of performance across content areas
  • Have informed discussions with students about course selection, college choices, and career plans
  • Identify areas where students need more preparation for the ACT test

One educator found that, “the results can be used to determine areas of student strengths and weaknesses that can be applied to improvements across the board as well as future ACT testing.”

Results from the PreACT are ready quickly, so teachers can get to work turning information into action. In fact, 95% of schools surveyed thought the turnaround time for reports was good. And, 93% felt the reports were user friendly.

In the Works

Explore, Evaluate and Align to the ACT Holistic Framework™

ACT invites educational institutions to explore, evaluate and align for free to the ACT® Holistic Framework™, a research-based framework that provides schools, districts, states and employers with a more complete and expansive description of the academic and nonacademic factors essential for preparing and measuring student readiness for college and careers.

“ACT takes a holistic view of individuals,” said ACT CEO Marten Roorda. “That is why we have created a framework that is holistic by design, covering all the contemporary factors that nearly 60 years of research revealed individuals need to be successful. As organizations align to it, the framework will serve as a standardized approach, connecting learning and assessment, in order to personalize education.”

ACT is inviting academic researchers and education and workforce stakeholders to evaluate the framework by joining a free, open source online platform called OpenSALT (Open Standards Alignment Tool). Through this collaborative community approach, ACT is soliciting input that will further define specific knowledge and skills that should be included in the Holistic Framework’s four areas or domains:

  • Core academic skills in the areas of literacy and language arts, mathematics and science.
  • Cross-cutting capabilities including tasks essential to academic performance, such as critical thinking, studying and learning, collaborative problem solving, and information and technology skills.
  • Behavioral skills, such as acting honestly, getting along with others, maintaining composure and sustaining effort.
  • Education and career navigation skills that influence individuals as they navigate educational and career paths, such as making informed, personally relevant decisions and developing actionable, achievable plans.

For teachers and employers, the framework identifies skills needed at various stages from kindergarten to career to assist students or employees who may need additional support or development. Students and employees can use the framework as a developmental guide as they seek to gain the skills and knowledge needed during their personal journey.

“Preparation for college, careers or life requires skills and competencies from multiple domains,” said Donna Matovinovic, ACT senior vice president of test development. “The framework allows users to understand the relationships across these areas so they can improve education and work readiness, navigate life’s transition points and achieve success.”

More details about the ACT Holistic Framework, including information for academic researchers and educators interested in participating in the collaborative community, are available online at act.org/holisticframework.