Is the ACT a Valid Test?

ACT, Inc. released the results of its 2016 National Curriculum Survey earlier this year. The Survey goes out every three or four years to elementary, middle school, high school, and college teachers, as well as to workforce professionals. It collects information about what respondents are teaching, how they teach it, what they care about, and so forth. It serves as the basis upon which ACT builds its tests. Because the Survey provides a look into both what pre-college students are being t...
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College As Culture Shock

The standards-based education reform movement, kicked off by A Nation At Risk in 1983, has been around long enough now to start showing results, if it’s going to. Unfortunately, there is not much evidence that this path is leading anywhere good. The latest Nation’s Report Card, based on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) testing, shows that twelfth graders in 2015 weren’t any more ready for college than were twelfth-graders in 2012.  Likewise, students in 2012 didn’t make pro...
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Function Follows Form

The problems with standardized tests lie less with the content they cover than with their very form – which drives their content and everything else about them. The tests have looked pretty much the way they do ever since the fifties – a bunch of kids all in the same place, bubbling in answers to the same questions, under the same strict time limits, under the watchful gaze of a roving proctor. Replicate across district, state, nation, world. The tests took this form not because it is ...
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Welcome to the Sausage Factory

I used to work for ACT, Inc., designing and developing student assessments. In my final years there, I was Director of the Writing and Communications Literacies group. In one of my last major projects, I headed the team responsible for the revamped ACT Writing Test, which rolled out in 2015. That roll-out was famously botched. ACT Test Development neglected to tend to the basics of scoring the new test; it's partner, Pearson, screwed up the reporting. Students and their families had paid ...
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