ACT Will Offer Enhancements to ACT Test to Improve Readiness and Help Students Plan for Success

Posted June 05, 2014

New Elements Include STEM Score, Career Readiness Indicator, and an Enhanced Writing Test 

IOWA CITY, IOWA—Starting in 2015, students who take the ACT®, the nation’s leading college readiness assessment, will receive new scores and indicators designed to improve readiness and help students plan for the future in areas important to success after high school, such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and career readiness. These new indicators are among several innovations that ACT will introduce, including an enhanced writing test.

The new indicators will be reported to students in addition to the traditional ACT scores and ACT College Readiness Benchmarks. The indicators will describe student performance and predicted readiness levels in categories such as STEM, career readiness, English language arts and text complexity, giving students a greater and more specific understanding of both their preparation for success after high school and how to better meet their goals. This will, in turn, better inform teaching, planning and decision making.

In addition, ACT plans to enhance the scoring and approach of the optional ACT Writing Test, offering more insights to help students become college and career ready. Students’ essays will be evaluated on four domains of writing competency:  ideas and analysis, development and support, organization, and language use. The test will measure students’ ability to evaluate multiple perspectives on a complex issue and generate their own analysis based on reasoning, knowledge and experience. This will allow students to more fully demonstrate their analytical writing ability.

“We are constantly seeking ways to bring new and innovative features to our customers,” said Jon Erickson, ACT president of education and career solutions. “Our goal is to continuously improve. These research- and evidence-based enhancements are designed to keep our products relevant and helpful. They will be introduced gradually and thoughtfully, so our customers don’t experience radical changes.”

ACT has previously announced other new developments the organization plans to deliver over the next few years, including a computer-based version of the ACT test and optional constructed-response questions. The digital ACT and constructed-response tests will be offered as options to select schools that participate in state and district testing starting in 2015. The computer-based ACT was successfully piloted in April with approximately 4,000 high school students across the United States.

The familiar 1-to-36 scores on the ACT will not change and will still be reported. The new readiness indicators will supplement those scores, giving students, parents and educators more detailed insights so that they may better plan for future success.

The readiness indicators include:

  • STEM Score—This score will represent the student’s overall performance on the science and math portions of the exam. The ACT is the only national college admission exam to measure science skills. This new score can help students connect their strengths to career and study paths that they might not otherwise have considered, particularly when used with their results from the ACT Interest Inventory.
  • Progress Toward Career Readiness Indicator—This measure will help students understand their progress toward career readiness and help educators prepare their students for success in a variety of career pathways. It will provide an indicator of future performance on the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate™ (ACT NCRC®), an assessment-based credential that certifies foundational work skills important for job success across industries and occupations.
  • English Language Arts Score—This score will combine achievement on the English, reading and writing portions of the ACT for those who take all three test sections, enabling students to see how their performance compares with others who have been identified as college-ready.
  • Text Complexity Progress Indicator—This measure will tell students if they are making sufficient progress toward understanding the complex texts they will encounter in college and during their careers. The information will help students plan future study to improve their readiness.

ACT will also add new reporting categories in 2016. The new categories will align with the Common Core State Standards domains and conceptual categories.

“The ACT will continue to be the tried-and-true achievement exam that students, colleges and states have trusted for more than 50 years,” said Wayne Camara, ACT senior vice president of research. “We are simply expanding the information that we provide to give students a better, clearer map of the road to success. We are focused on helping the individual student. Our ongoing goal is to offer a wider range of relevant, personalized insights to each test taker.”

For more information and FAQs—and to sign up for updates on progress and new developments—please visit www.act.org/actnext.