ACT Aspire Score Scale

Score Scale

ACT Aspire is designed to measure students’ progress toward college and career readiness over the course of time, specifically from grades 3 through 10. To this end, each of the achievement tests that comprise the ACT Aspire battery produces scores that describe students’ longitudinal growth in English, reading, mathematics and science. Each scale score is linked to college and career data through scores on the ACT assessment.

The ACT Aspire longitudinal score scale:

  • Provides a common language for discussing student achievement over time
  • Facilitates measurement of individual and group-level growth by providing a common scale
  • Enables the monitoring and tracking of student performance and progress across grades

Score Scales, Grades 3–10


The longitudinal scale used in ACT Aspire offers many benefits. These include:

  • A single scale that summarizes the achievement of students from multiple grades
  • Common language for discussing student achievement—“a common vocabulary and metric for describing a student’s progress throughout his or her educational journey” (Jorgensen, 2004, in Depascale, 2006).
  • Direct comparison of student performance through scores earned on different grade-level tests, allowing for monitoring and tracking of student performance and progress across grades
  • Measurement of individual- and group-level growth with a common scale
  • Growth tracking over time:
  • “Properly developed vertical scales add several compelling features to achievement tests. They facilitate the estimation and tracking of growth over time. For instance, we might obtain repeated measures on individual students using different age- and grade-appropriate test forms. These measures would help us determine how much growth has occurred at different intervals. Second, it would appear that vertically scaled achievement tests would allow more robust comparisons, relative to single, cross-grade administrations. In particular, vertical scales allow comparisons of one grade level to another and of one cohort to another” (Patz and Yao, 2007, p. 255).

ACT Aspire scale scores range from 400 up, depending on the subject and grade. This scale is unique to ACT Aspire, and clearly differentiates ACT Aspire from other scoring scales. The ACT Aspire score scale runs from grade 3 to grade 10 for English, math, reading, and science. Raw scores on the ACT Aspire tests are computed using the sum of the points an examinee earns across the multiple-choice, technology-enhanced, and constructed-response items on the test form administered.

How was the ACT Aspire scale developed?

A scaling test design was used to set up the scale. Each student in the scaling study took a scaling test composed of items from multiple grades and an on-grade test of the same subject. For practical reasons, in test administration, instead of creating one single whole-scaling test covering items from grades 3 through high school, four separate scaling tests with linking items were constructed for each subject: the first scaling test covered items from grades 3–5; the second covered items from 5–7; the third covered items from 7–EHS; and the fourth covered items from EHS and the ACT tests. Including the ACT test items in the scaling test enabled ACT to add the ACT items plus the constructed-response section to the ACT Aspire scale as well. After a single vertical scale was created for each subject through the scaling tests, the base form for each on-grade test was linked to this scale. Newly developed on-grade test forms will be horizontally equated to the on-grade base forms to maintain the scale.

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