While the ACT tests are familiar to students looking to go to college, particularly for the coveted TOPS tuition waivers at Louisiana schools, every student will in the future be getting a look at the national college test.
Louisiana is funding admission of ACT tests for every student, beginning in the eighth grade, and putting the test into its calculation of school performance.
It is potentially a significant challenge, particularly for high schools, given that in the past students looking to college were by far the most likely to take the test.
Over the past two years, the Louisiana Department of Education reported a majority of Louisiana districts have improved in their ACT scores. However, that’s not with 100 percent participation by eligible students.
As participation increases, the state’s average score is likely to go down, at least for a while.
That reflects the rigor in the test, and we believe that’s a good thing — if Louisiana schools rise to the challenge and improve student performance.
State school Superintendent John White said economies in the state Department of Education budget will fund the test, at about $2 million a year. The tests in grades eight, nine, 10 and 11 will help evaluate student progress against a national standard, helpful for schools and systems seeking to perform at a standard of national excellence.
Bernard Taylor, superintendent of the East Baton Rouge schools, said the testing of students who are not college bound will surely affect the averages, but in recent years more students have been taking the tests and scores have increased.
Schools benefit as their students show improvement on ACT scores, but a big benefit is the tests’ focus on reading with comprehension — something that White said is vital to success in school and readiness for careers as well as college.
As one-fourth of a high school’s performance score, the addition of the ACT is a big deal, and we welcome this initiative.