Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Life after ACT Explore & Plan

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I think so many of us had that moment of wanting to break down and cry when we heard that the ACT Explore and Plan would be gone forever. I personally denied it for as long as I could and then processed the truth very quickly, jumped straight into accepting the reality of our new world and started to brainstorm about what to do next.

Like most of my readers, I realized very quickly that we would not be able to (1) quickly adopt the ACT ASPIRE to help place incoming freshman unless we hit the lottery due to its sticker price: $22 (CBT)/$28 (paper/pencil) and (2) use the ACT Aspire for our career development program because it does not include a career component.

I feel like crying again just typing that.

Finally, today at our local ACT College & Career Readiness Workshop I found a solution to our woes...


Many of us were using the ACT Explore for freshman placement purposes. Without the Explore around, a new, reliable solution had to be found. Today I found out that ACT actually offers 3 different types of ASPIRE, the one I wrote about above, which is the summative assessment and two additional formats: (1) ASPIRE Interim Assessments and (2) ASPIRE Classroom Assessments. Check out the snapshot (below) from my product catalog.

The solution for our placement concerns is the ACT Interim Assessments. A couple of things to note:

1. There are 3 batteries (English, Math, Science)
2. Release dates are: Sept 1, Dec. 1 and March 1
3. You can choose to give 1, 2 or all 3 intervals
4. Each battery is 45 minutes & computer based
5. You get % correct, not a scale score
6. Available for grades 3-10
7. Cost: $7/student

My idea for placement...

Order ASPIRE Interim Assessments for all grade 9-10 students. Assess the students 1st semester, prior to final exams. Compare ASPIRE scores to final course grades 1st semester to set new placement criteria for English and Math courses. Use this baseline data for future placement. Assess grade 8 students in the Spring and place them according to the new criteria established by local norms.

The Cost

A colleague of mine had a genius idea of charging students a fee at registration next year to pay for the ASPIRE to help the students prepare for the ACT and provide the school with better placement data. She suggested charging $25-$30/student (maybe a little higher if you have a high percentage of free/reduced lunch students). Maybe term the fee "College & Career Readiness Testing Fee" or something similar. You can get a discounted rate I believe if you combine the summative and interim assessments. 

I can also think of ideas for use of the ASPIRE Classroom Assessment, but I won't go into great detail in this post. In general, if you have been using Discovery testing or something similar for progress monitoring, you may want to check out the classroom assessment product.

  • Learn more about the migration and find other useful links here.
  • Check out practice ASPIRE tests here. (to log in use the test you are practicing: English, Math or Science; and always use "ACTASPIRE" as the password). NOTE: select "review answers" to review the answers.
  • The answers for the practice tests and much more are located here in the Exemplars
Career Development Solution

Now this is an exciting one! ACT is now recommending that we use ACT Profile, a new, FREE, career planning program. ACT Profile is built to be more like a social media account. Students can use it to take assessments (interest, abilities and values inventory), identify obstacles to college/career planning and so much more. The Career Map is interactive in the program and aligns the results of their assessments to identify further career exploration opportunities. Counselors can set up a profile and students can connect with their counselor for tracking purposes.

ACT Profile may end up replacing my current career development resource. I plan to learn more about this tool this semester and introduce it to a select group of freshman. Stay tuned for more details.

The Future

I foresee a major change in my program throughout the course of this year. I was apprehensive at first, just because there didn't seem to be a viable solution, but now I feel like we have options. I especially am happy to see the ACT Profile option, and the fact that it is free is even better.

Please share your plans on migrating to the new ACT products in the comments section below. I would love to hear what you all have planned. Together we can make this transition smoother.

Want to learn more about my program? Check out these links:

Related posts about my program that are now subject to change.
Mentions of my current career development program: Whats Next Illinois

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