New ACT Assessment System to be Named ACT Aspire™

Posted September 27, 2012

IOWA CITY, Iowa—ACT, Inc., the nonprofit leader in college and career readiness assessment, today announced new details about its upcoming “next generation” assessment system. The new program, which will span elementary grades through high school, will be called ACT Aspire.

Development of ACT Aspire was initially announced in July and is ongoing. The goal of the system will be to provide educators, parents and students with the insights they need to help students get and stay on track for college and career readiness starting early in their academic careers by better connecting assessment, teaching and learning.

“We have drawn on our decades of experience and data to create a breakthrough assessment system designed to help students stay on target to reach their full potential throughout their educational journey,” said Jon Erickson, ACT’s president of education.  “ACT Aspire is the first digital, longitudinal assessment system that will provide the actionable information students, parents and educators need to measure and improve student performance from early elementary to high school.”

“ACT Aspire is the first product that will embody ACT’s new vision and strategic direction,” said Jon Whitmore, ACT’s chief executive officer.  “As students today require more effective tools to compete, ACT is the organization that is best positioned to guide students to achieve success from kindergarten through career.”

Educators and administrators will benefit from the following aspects of the ACT Aspire system:

  • The ACT Aspire system will be aligned from elementary grades to high school, connecting each grade level to the next. This will create a cohesive longitudinal system that is comparable and transportable from one state to the next. Teachers and parents can know with confidence where each student is on the path to college and career readiness at every step along the way.
  • In addition to summative assessments that measure how much students have learned over time, ACT Aspire will include formative assessments that help teachers meet students’ learning needs within individual classes throughout the year. The aligned assessments will inform teachers about students’ progress toward specific learning standards, so they can better tailor their instructional activities and resources to help students learn.
  • A state-of-the-art, digital delivery of the system—powered by Pearson, with which ACT is partnering on this initiative—will allow teachers to take control of classroom testing, giving them the flexibility to schedule tests according to their classroom schedules. The system will also have the ability to support millions of students at scale on multiple devices, such as laptops and tablets. (The system will also accommodate a paper-and-pencil format for schools that need it.)
  • The cloud-based, interactive system will accommodate new types of multimedia test items and give educators the ability to view classroom test results almost immediately. This quick insight will help pinpoint gaps between what students have actually learned and what they need to learn, allowing educators to better align assessment, curriculum, learning and intervention strategies.
  • Because ACT Aspire is evolving from ACT’s more than 50 years of experience with college and career readiness assessment programs and research—and because the system will be anchored by the organization’s flagship college and career readiness exam, the ACT®—it will offer continuity to schools and states that have used the organization’s existing solutions. The score scales for 3rd through 10th grade assessments will be linked to the familiar College Readiness Benchmark scores used on the ACT, PLAN® and EXPLORE®. The transition to ACT Aspire can therefore occur smoothly, with minimal disruption for many schools and teachers.
  • The ACT Aspire system will be designed to evolve over time based on the changing needs of college and career readiness. As ACT is developing the 1.0 version of the system, it is already planning for new features in subsequent versions. ACT is committed to ongoing research, support and validation of the system. Over the years ahead, ACT will continually update and refresh the content of the system to reflect any changes in college and career readiness standards.
  • ACT Aspire will be fully aligned with the Common Core State Standards, which draw heavily from ACT’s College Readiness Standards and research. The system will also go beyond those standards to measure science skills and other dimensions of readiness.

ACT research indicates that assessment and intervention provided earlier in students’ academic careers improves their chances of succeeding in school and reaching their college and career goals.

Field testing for ACT Aspire is already under way, with plans to launch the system in the spring of 2014.

To learn more about ACT Aspire, please visit: