ACT Prep @ EHS

The ACT:

The subject of summative assessments in schools is a complicated one, but year-in and year-out one test that is always important is the ACT.  It is used for college admissions decisions and qualification for scholarships in a way that makes it very important for students in their Junior year and their parents.  After all, those scholarship opportunities carry the potential to relieve parents of a lot of future college tuition obligations.

We have seen, in years past that with adequate preparation, students can see improvement in these important scores.  That said, it's not just the test score that's important.  The ACT is a test for college preparedness and thus, post-graduation success.  Students who don't reach the benchmarks will most likely need to take remedial classes before beginning the college level coursework (like a Math 99 class).  Students who don't intend to go on to a four-year college should also care about the ACT because it shows their readiness for the skills they will need for the working world: Reading, Writing, Mathematics and interpreting data.  These are all essential for successful citizens.

By taking a pre-test early in the year, we are provided a baseline score to which we may compare the student's performance in the Spring.  Using this measure we can see how a 

student's work has benefited them with a higher score in the area where they faced a challenge on the pre-test.  The test we gave is the actual ACT practice test available from the company that makes the actual ACT.  This helps our students prepare for what they can expect on the test they take in the Spring.

What we did today:

We gave the students an analysis of their pre-test results.  We met with the entire class and discussed the information on the paper we gave them and what it all means.  

  1. We showed students that they could see their scores in each of the subject areas (English, Math, Reading and Science) and the Composite Score which represents all of those scores combined.  Below each score, students can see if they met the benchmark for that area or not.  The benchmark is an indication of the likelihood of success for students entering college without any remedial courses.  Students who meet a benchmark are likely to be successful in that area in their first year of college.  Those who don't will likely need additional support in order to show success.  
  2. Next, the paper shows their answers for each question on the test and the correct answer.  We handed out test booklets for each student so they can look at how they answered and what is the correct answer for any question they want to see.  This will hopefully allow them to begin to understand why they answered incorrectly and address that concern.  
  3. On the bottom of the second page students can view on which subcategories of the subjects they did best and on which they will need to focus to return a higher score in that area.  Students will use all of this information to formulate a goal for themselves for this year.  Below is a diagram that shows each of the areas described and where to find them on the paper we gave the students.  We think it would be helpful for parents to have a conversation with their child about the paper and the information on it and what it means.

Students then entered some of the information from the paper into a form.  This form is also where students were asked to set a point goal for each of the areas of the test, when they take it in the Spring.  That goal is where we will focus our test preparation for the duration of this school year.  A goal sheet is created from this information and has been emailed to your child.  We think it will be helpful for parents to discuss the goal sheet with their child as well.  Parents should check to see that the goals are reasonable and attainable for the student and that the student knows where to focus their efforts (the areas that showed weakness in the report).  Our school's goal is to have an average composite score for 2016 of at least 23 points.  That's an ambitious goal considering last year's Junior class scored 21.5 on average, but we think that if we shoot for the moon, if we miss we will fall among the stars.  23 points would be a new high for Erie High School but we think that it's a goal that's attainable if we work hard enough between now and the Spring to affect a change.

What can parents do?

Parents should discuss the information on the paper we gave the students as well as the goals that they set.  Take a look at the paper they got today and discuss it with them acknowledging their strengths and weaknesses.  Also, take a look at the goal sheet that was emailed to them as a result of them picking their goals.  Make sure that you and your child are on the same page about the goals and that they are reasonable for the student to attain.  An improvement of up to two points is possible with diligent and focused practice.  Often, correctly answering just two or three questions will advance a student's score by an ACT point.  As we begin to inform you of specific tools that students can use, please help us encourage them to use them.  Check on their progress and ask them questions about their preparation which require more than a simple "Yes" or "No" response.

We will continue to work with your child throughout the year and to communicate with you our plan to help them raise their scores so that Erie High School can take academic achievement to the next level.