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All ACT QualityCore testing concluded on July 28, 2017.  District and School Test Coordinator access to student and summary reports is still available through December 29, 2017. In addition, access to the Educator Resources will be available until the end of 2017.

Measuring Crucial Knowledge and Skills

Improve course content and student performance on the ACT

ACT QualityCore® is based, in part, on research that ACT coauthored with the Education Trust that examined high-performing classrooms that were exceeding national averages in preparing students for college and career. Subsequent ACT research has shown that students who took rigorous courses in math and science were more likely to do better on the ACT, be ready for college and career, and enroll in and graduate from college. Preliminary course standards were developed and then validated by a group of teachers nationwide, laying the foundation for ACT QualityCore.

Read more about the benefits of ACT QualityCore below.

"I would absolutely recommend this program to other schools. I'm a believer. I love it. I highly recommend it and I think it is a very simple process to get started. It is great for all students—it raises the bar for all kids, not just the high achieving kids."

John Spieser
Little Miami High School, Ohio

A rigorous curriculum sets course standards at such a level that all students—from those who struggle to those who excel—are on track for a variety of post-high school opportunities. ACT QualityCore helps:

  • Anchor curriculum to meaningful endpoints for students
  • Align curriculum to build and support students’ understanding of concepts and development of skills
  • Emphasize depth of understanding over breadth of coverage
  • Encourage interdisciplinary connections

When teachers add rigor to their instruction, they help their students master high standards. Course outlines, unit plans, and model instructional units are among the ACT QualityCore instructional resources that help teachers do this. The program also provides ACT Course Standards to help teachers align what they’re teaching with the essential skills students need for success in high school, on the ACT, and throughout their lives after graduation.

ACT QualityCore helps teachers align assessment with the depth of understanding required by established standards—and allows students to demonstrate their mastery of those standards. The program provides the following assessment resources:

  • Test blueprint that describes the thinking skills and content to be measured in end-of-course assessments
  • Test builder to help build interim assessments and align them to essential skills
  • End-of-course assessments to measure learning outcomes

ACT QualityCore Components

Instead of a specialized, limited curriculum, ACT QualityCore offers flexible components—featured below—to help you improve and align your current high school curriculum and instructional materials. Read more about the components of ACT QualityCore below.

ACT Course Standards

Aligned to Common Core State Standards and drawn from years of empirical data and real-world classroom experience, ACT Course Standards define the essential knowledge and skills students need to be college and career ready.

ACT Course Standards were originally derived from an intensive study of high-performing high schools with significant minority and low-income enrollments. The study, On Course for Success: A Close Look at Selected High School Courses That Prepare All Students for College, was conducted jointly by ACT and the Education Trust.

Each set of ACT Course Standards, reviewed and cross-validated by a selection of classroom teachers in high-performing schools across the country, covers the important knowledge and skills of the discipline—the essential ideas that students must master if they are to have a firm grasp of the field.

The ACT Course Standards:

  • Introduce knowledge and skills in an appropriate sequence
  • Show an increasing intellectual sophistication with each subsequent course
  • Represent what is manageable in terms of instruction

Teachers can analyze their courses by comparing their course content to the ACT Course Standards.

Developed by teachers for teachers, ACT QualityCore instructional resources enable teachers and coaches to customize instruction to meet individual student needs.

From course standards to test blueprints and model instructional units, ACT QualityCore's breadth and depth of educational resources allow educators to customize instruction to meet their students' needs.

Educator's Guide
The Educator's Guide provides practical information on how all the instructional resources are intended to be used. It includes activities to guide educators in comparing their current instructional materials with the ACT QualityCore materials, which reflect a data-based, proven approach to rigorous instruction.

Course Description and Syllabus
Each Course Description and Syllabus describes the pedagogical strategies that make a course rigorous, define course content, and set forth classroom policies that encourage learning.

Course Outline/Instructional Units Plan
Each Course Outline/Instructional Units Plan suggests a sequence for a yearlong course so that all ACT Course Standards will be covered, showing the standards to be covered by unit.

Model Instructional Unit
Each Model Instructional Unit illustrates how the ACT Course Standards are connected to instruction and can be delivered in the classroom. Teachers may use as-is, as a model to assess the quality of existing units, or as a resource for developing new units.

Guidelines for Developing an Instructional Unit
Guidelines for Developing Instructional Units provide step-by-step processes for designing instruction for specific learning goals, student needs, student characteristics, and learning contexts.

Available through an online interactive test builder, ACT QualityCore provides educators with customizable quizzes and interim benchmark assessments that ensure teachers are identifying trouble spots in student learning.

For each course, ACT QualityCore includes pools of 225 multiple-choice and 25 constructed-response formative items, keyed to ACT Course Standards and depth-of-knowledge levels. Teachers may use items from the pools to develop quizzes and other interim assessment tools.

ACT QualityCore End-of-Course Assessments measure the learning outcomes all students must attain in order to succeed in college and careers. Each assessment includes problem-based questions embedded in both academic and real-world contexts that are accessible and relevant to high school students. These real-world problems require practical applications of concepts, theories, principles, and process.

Flexible options include:

  • Two 45-minute test sessions—multiple-choice and constructed response, or multiple choice only
  • Computer-based or paper-and-pencil format
  • Standards-based reporting

Results support informed decisions: each assessment will report a total score and three to five diagnostic subscores associated with the ACT Course Standards. These subscores enable educators to drill down to specific areas of strength and weakness in student learning. 

Online ACT QualityCore reporting and longitudinal tracking enable educators to evaluate student progress and provide actionable information on student achievement. 

Reports are delivered online through a secure, user-friendly interface. Individual and group achievement data can be aggregated based on user role. For example:

  • For teachers—student and classroom reports
  • For district administrators—student, classroom, school, and district reports
  • For state administrators—student, classroom, school, district, and state reports

Reports provide local, state, and national comparisons of students' performance within each course. They also evaluate students' progress toward college and career readiness, unique to each course. The ACT QualityCore End-of-Course Assessment score reports also include estimated scores on the ACT® test or on ACT Aspire®, giving students and teachers an easy way to identify how well prepared students are for college and career readiness.

Reports may be printed and/or downloaded in a format suitable for ad hoc reports and analyses.

Tracking Progress
Because all ACT QualityCore course standards and materials are based upon the ACT College and Career Readiness Benchmarks, educators have a variety of ways to track progress toward readiness throughout a student's education:

  • ACT QualityCore End-of-Course Assessment reports include an estimated ACT/ACT Aspire score that gives students and teachers an easy way to identify how well prepared students are for college and career readiness
  • Students' progress can be measured through multiple courses within each subject area (e.g., English 9, 10, 11, and 12)

Live, interactive, online reporting identifies students' progress toward specific course standards compared with others in their cohort or district

Benefits for Students, Schools, and Districts

What schools and districts can accomplish

Decades of ACT research make it clear: it's not just the number of classes a student takes, but what happens in those classes that matters most. In partnership with the nation's leading educators, the ACT research and development teams designed ACT QualityCore to raise the quality and intensity of high school core courses.

With ACT QualityCore:

  • Students will be confident that, upon graduation from high school, they will be academically prepared for college or workplace training programs
  • Teachers will be armed with the resources, tools, and training they need to successfully reach and teach all students in their classrooms
  • Principals will be assured that what's being taught in the classroom is effective, targeted, and customized to meet students' needs for college and career readiness
  • Superintendents will be certain that the quality of instruction and the intensity of learning are consistent in each classroom and each school
  • States will realize the benefit of a well-educated citizenry

Common Questions

Still want to learn more about ACT QualityCore? Check our answers to the most frequently asked questions about the program.

Administer ACT QualityCore

Tools and resources to help you prepare for administering ACT QualityCore testing.

Beyond Academics

Planning for success


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