- Drone almost blocks California firefighting planes
- Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees near Boston
- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s gay marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
- U.N. rights chief: Flight MH17 downing possible war crime
- Attack on park in Gaza war kills 10, mostly children
Switch to digital for ACT admissions exam is bumpy
Company sure glitches are solvable
Question of the Day
The ACT college admissions exam is going digital in 2015, and its creators fully expect some bumps along the way.
Just as the company earlier this week announced its new 21st-century testing method, schools in Kentucky were reverting to the classic pencil-and-paper approach after ACT’s online assessment system crashed. The ordeal, while a headache for educators in Kentucky, provided a learning experience for exam developers, ACT’s education division President Jon L. Erickson said Thursday.
“Technology is still in evolution. There is known risk around technology. This is why we’re being a little more methodical about our move to digital on the ACT. The move is in two years,” he said.
Best known for its college admissions test — now more popular than the SAT and taken by nearly 1.7 million students last year — the Iowa City, Iowa-based ACT Inc. is a national leader in assessments for K-12 schools, colleges, professional associations and other entities.
Those exams traditionally have been done with No. 2 pencils and fill-in-the-bubble answer sheets, a system that is quickly falling by the wayside. The new system lets each test center decide whether it wants to give the test via computer, though students can opt for a pencil-and-paper test.
But with each expansion of computerized testing comes new glitches to fix.
“There were lessons learned [in Kentucky]. I’m very optimistic that the lessons learned there and the evolution of technology over the course of the next 24 months is going to be 10 leapfrogs ahead. But we’re very cautious,” Mr. Erickson said.
If current trends hold, however, the students who take those exams will by no means be ready for postsecondary-level work. ACT data paints a grim picture of how ill-prepared many American students are for the next step in their education.
“Our data suggests that about 40 percent of students who take the ACT — about 52 percent of high school graduates in the country last year — got to a college-readiness level in English, math, reading and science,” he said.
To help change that, the company was involved in the creation of the so-called “Common Core” K-12 standards, which lays out in great detail what facts should be known and what skills should be mastered as students finish each grade level. It has been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.
The assessment tests in Kentucky are tied those standards; the Bluegrass State was the first in the nation to test its students based on Common Core.
But there’s a growing backlash among many in the education community who argue that, while Common Core is a good idea, teachers and school administrators need more time to familiarize themselves with the standards before high-stakes testing is linked to them.
“Momentum is building to step on the accelerator of quality implementation, and put the brakes on the stakes,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said Thursday.
Those sentiments, along with a growing movement against Common Core across the country, have led some analysts to suggest that many states could adopt the system in name only but not tie student assessments to it.
That, Mr. Erickson said, would be a mistake.
“Just throwing a bunch of standards against the wall doesn’t change practice or student performance all by itself,” he said. “It’s naive to think that changing a standard on a piece of paper is going to change things.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Wolfgang covers the White House for The Washington Times.
Before joining the Times in March 2011, Ben spent four years as a political reporter at the Republican-Herald in Pottsville, Pa.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Libya now nation at risk with weak U.S. influence; embassy closes as chaos grows
- White House readies for House GOP impeachment push: 'Foolish' to ignore
- White House adviser on 2016: Rand Paul more viable than Ted Cruz
- Obama takes aim at 'corporate deserters'
- Michelle Obama says money in politics is bad, asks donors for 'big, fat check'
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Scott Pinsker
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- D.C. police chief orders officers not to arrest legal gun owners carrying weapons in public
- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- Babson College, BYU win top spots in Money magazine's college rankings
- CURL: Obama, staffers not even pretending any more
- Family of Marine killed in Afghanistan pushes back against cover-up
- D.C. seeks stay in order striking down ban on handguns in public
- DeSean Jackson working on offensive cohesiveness with Redskins teammates
- Ohio sheriff sends bill to Mexico for cost of jailing illegals
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq