Middle, High School Students to Take ACT Tests

Canyons School District has embraced a new academic plan to ensure all students have the skills they need to be successful in college and careers. In fall 2010, Canyons is putting in place several measures to give students, parents and teachers regular feedback about students’ progress toward that goal.

In September, all eighth-graders will take the ACT EXPLORE exam. EXPLORE is paid for by a state grant, and developed by an ACT college-entrance test research team. EXPLORE measures student knowledge in English, reading, math and science. Results can tell us about a student’ progress toward career- and college-readiness, and help students choose the high school classes that will best prepare them to achieve these goals.

To help students make the most out of high school, we will give the ACT’s PLAN exam to all 10th-graders. PLAN offers a midpoint review on student progress, and students’ results will be an important feature of Student Education/Occupation Plan (SEOP) meetings. Additionally, all 11th-graders will take the ACT college-entrance during the school day. Results will provide feedback on students’ college- and career-readiness, and help families pinpoint which courses will best help students achieve one of Canyons’ college and career-ready diplomas.  

Last February, the Canyons Board of Education voted to offer students two optional college- and career-ready diplomas. The Advanced Diploma requires students to choose rigorous options for the classes already required for high school graduation, such as college-prep English and lab science. The Advanced Diploma also requires students to demonstrate competency in Algebra II and earn two credits of world language. The Honors Diploma includes the Advanced Diploma requirements, plus College Readiness Benchmark Scores on the ACT college-entrance test. Those scores are (out of 36 possible): 18 in English; 21 in Reading; 22 in Mathematics; and 24 in Science. Schools will begin awarding these diplomas in spring 2011.

We hope these efforts will encourage students to take more challenging classes, and ultimately equip them with the skills needed to be successful in college and the workforce. Research shows that students who take EXPLORE and PLAN are more likely to meet the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, and that how well students do on the ACT is directly related to how well they’ll do in college. Also, and perhaps most importantly, the skills students need to be prepared both for college and today’s workforce are the same.

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