Welcome to the Administrator Newsletter
Each month we’ll share information about important upcoming deadlines and events, professional development opportunities, new research, product updates, and ACT assessment news.
- 3 Ways to Use Your ACT High School Profile Report
- Why Choose the ACT?
- Professional Development Opportunities
- How to Affect School Culture with Data Visualization Techniques
- Upcoming Dates
- Research Shows College GPA is Linked to ACT Score
- Take Rigorous High School Courses for Better Scores
- Updated Data Delivery
- Improvements Made to Accommodations Enrollment
- Communication Toolkits for PreACT and ACT Aspire
- Chief Academic Officer Values Statewide ACT Administration
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1. Evaluate Your Curriculum and Instruction
Subject area reporting gives you student performance data on specific skills and abilities within each subject area, such as language conventions, data interpretation, and scientific investigation. These data, used with the ACT Curriculum Review Worksheets, help you identify areas for improvement in your instruction and curriculum.
2. Analyze Student Course Patterns
Common Course Pattern data provides information on how students performed on the ACT subject test in comparison to the courses the student has completed in that subject. Look for trends between student course patterns and ACT scores to identify paths you can recommend to other students.
3. Compare Student Performance Over 5-Year Trends
The district report gives you ACT Composite scores and insights on how many students are reaching readiness benchmarks across the previous 5 years. Think about what has changed over those 5 years and how those actions have impacted scores.
A Comprehensive Suite of Solutions
Preparing students for college, careers, and life requires teaching to the whole student, developing skills and expertise in and beyond academics. Using ACT solutions together gives schools the ability to build a comprehensive assessment plan down to third grade, track college and career readiness longitudinally, and measure the social and emotional needs of your students with curriculum and educator playbooks to address those needs in the classroom.
Rich Data for Actionable Insights
Turn insights into action with a robust set of reports from every ACT assessment. Reports include more than a score, giving you information to drive informed conversations about instruction, curriculum, grading practices, student course patterns, benchmarks, and social/emotional learning factors.
Support for Dual Enrollment Programs
All students deserve the opportunity, at as little cost to them as possible, to earn college credit from qualified instructors in high-quality dual enrollment programs. Results from PreACT® and the ACT® test in combination with the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks can be used to determine student readiness for these courses.
Free Resources From OpenEd
Over 500,000 of the best educational videos, games, assessments, homework assignments, and lesson plans (including Khan Academy) have been gathered all in one place. OpenEd is designed to blend easily and seamlessly into your classroom. Using advanced algorithms powered by best-in-class machine learning, the OpenEd smart library finds relevant instructional content for each student or classroom, based on scores from PreACT and the ACT.
Professional Development Opportunities
ACT gives educators the opportunity to participate in free professional development webinars and workshops. Sessions have focused on how to increase rigor and relevance in the classroom using ACT data and leverage free instructional tools.
You have the opportunity to access the latest information from ACT as well as opportunities for: scholarships, professional development, current research and development, statewide data releases and networking opportunities.
Help your students prepare and succeed by giving them access to ACT solutions from their earliest grades through their careers. Together, we can make students unstoppable.
The “X Factors” of College Readiness
High school coursework and good grades play a significant role, but they aren’t the only factors to consider in predicting students’ college readiness levels. Other student and school characteristics can also influence academic performance.
Alan Shotts, Career Center Coordinator at Cody High School in Wyoming, knows the powerful impact data visualization can have in transforming student ACT scores and GPA information into action. Data visualization has redefined the culture of the Cody school system.
“If you want to use data, you have to invest the time to make it something that everybody can use. The thing I love about ACT is we get lots of data from them,” said Shotts.
In 2015, Shotts created a simple scatter plot of students’ GPA and ACT Composite scores. Shotts and the Cody High School staff could see a general correlation between GPA and ACT score, but were unable to identify any specific actions they could take to improve student results. By adding the minimum GPA and ACT score requirements for the Hathaway Scholarship to the graph, it became apparent that students in the upper right quadrant all qualified for this important financial benefit while students in the other three quadrants did not.
This was the change Cody High needed to stop looking at overall trends and start conversations with educators and administrators about instruction, curriculum, grading practices, student course patterns, benchmarks, and social/emotional learning factors.
“You can make changes if you focus on the right things. If you want an average school, use average data and that’s pretty much what you’ll get. If you want to start improving things, you have to start looking at individuals,” said Shotts.
In 2017, the focus has shifted to looking at individual students who were outliers on the chart. The school identified students whose GPA and ACT scores did not correlate and students who earned similar ACT Composite scores but had vastly different GPAs. As a result, conversations about the data began to focus on the causes behind these outliers:
- What classes did they take?
- What benchmarks are they achieving and what standards are they understanding?
- What is being graded in the classroom, knowledge or action?
- What are their social and emotional behaviors?
- Is this something we have control over?
By asking and answering these tough questions, Cody High School is able to use data to identify areas—system wide and in the classroom—where changes make an observable difference in student performance. School wide, this means focusing on grading what students know rather than what they do. In the classroom, educators can easily see where students struggle with specific standards and subjects, like algebra, and adjust curriculum to improve outcomes.
According to Shotts, “That’s the whole object of data—giving you something you can fix. And, until a teacher sees it as something he or she can change, it’s not going to change.”
To find out more about the data you receive from students taking the ACT test, visit: www.act.org/theact.
National Conference on Education
February 15–17, 2018
Education in the Digital Age
Research has shown that first-year college GPA (FYGPA) can be reasonably predicted based on ACT Composite scores. In a May 2017 Technical Brief, ACT produced statistical evidence demonstrating the link between ACT Composite scores and FYGPA.
- Students earning a 23 on the ACT have a 50% chance of earning a 3.00 or higher FYPA and an 84% chance of earning a 2.00 (C average) or higher FYGPA.
- Students earning an 18 on the ACT have a 28% chance of earning a 3.00 or higher FYPA and a 72% chance of earning a 2.00 (C average) or higher FYGPA.
This evidence can be used to determine students’ probability of success after high school, allowing you to decide at what level students are ready for college or career. The ACT College Readiness Benchmark is set at a score of 23.
The best way for students to prepare for the ACT test is to take rigorous high school courses, participate in class, and study.
Within subjects, ACT has consistently found that students who take the recommended core curriculum are more likely to be ready for college or career than those who do not.
A core curriculum is defined as four years of English and three years each of math, social studies, and science.
For the graduating class of 2017, 68% of students completed a core curriculum. Those students achieved an average ACT Composite score of 22.1, while students who took less than the core curriculum had an average ACT Composite score of 18.9.
Course pattern tables from the National Profile Report show that the more courses and advanced courses a student took correlated to meeting the benchmark in that subject area and a higher subject score. For example, students who completed math through calculus had an average ACT Math score of 23.2 and 62% met the math benchmark.
Students who advanced through trigonometry had an average score of 18.9 and just 26% met the benchmark.
ACT continues to research the importance of academic rigor in relation to college success to inform our assessments. In June, we released a working paper on the subject, An Empirically-Derived Index of High School Academic Rigor.
Updated Data Delivery
ACT is piloting an online reporting system with 20 schools/districts. This pilot tests the use of an interactive reporting system to view aggregate data and drill down to individual results as well as options for filtering, sorting and exporting. The goal of the pilot is to improve the customer experience and eliminate the current distribution of CDs and paper reports. Stay tuned for more information in 2018 on this exciting project.
Improvements Made to Accommodations Enrollment
To further streamline the accommodations request process, ACT linked our Test Accessibility and Accommodations System (TAA) with our student registration system. With this enhancement, the student information and registered test date will automatically appear in TAA, even if it is their first time requesting accommodations.
When a student registers online, we will continue to direct them to forward their accommodations instructions email to counselors. However, ACT will automatically create a new request in TAA, or update a previously submitted request, when the student indicates a need for accommodations or English learner supports. Counselors will be notified by ACT via email when action is required.
For quick and easy directions on registering for accommodations, download the Requesting Accommodations and English Learner Supports 3 Step Checklist for Students and Parents and the National vs. Special Accommodation Guide.
Communication Toolkits for PreACT and ACT Aspire
To continue helping schools improve communication about the importance of academic and social-emotional measurement, ACT is expanding our resource toolkits. In the coming months, we will be releasing materials for PreACT and ACT Aspire.
These toolkits will include:
- Email communication templates to send to students, parents, and educators
- Engaging social media images for sharing from your school’s accounts
- PowerPoint slides to educate your staff and for parent nights
- Flyers explaining the value of PreACT and ACT Aspire
Look for the release of these toolkits in upcoming issues of the newsletter.
Chief Academic Officer Values Statewide ACT Administration
“I’ve always thought it’s a great idea to provide all students a chance to take the ACT at no cost. Taking a placement exam and sending scores to a college are an important first step towards college admission, so I like that the state will be ensuring that every student will have that opportunity.”
–Jack Fette, Chief Academic Officer for Olentangy Schools, Ohio
See the benefits of ACT State and District Testing for yourself.