Time to ACT for graduation

Is it worth it?

For high schoolers, spring means standardized testing season. The OGT, ACT and SAT will have high schoolers saying OMG (oh my God), IDK (I don’t Know), and KMN (kill me now).

Recently, the Ohio Department of Education added the ACT and SAT to the list of requirements for high school graduation. With test scores dropping from last year’s testing season, it raises questions on why this was added as a requirement.

Now there are advantages with taking the test at school such as, saving money and not paying the fee or the fact that students have the opportunity to take it again on their own time. There are still some unanswered questions. According to data gathered by insidehighered.com in 2016, the scores of the ACT dropped to the lowest composited score in 4 years. The data shows that the more students that are taking the test, the more the average drops. “Scores drops were the largest in states that have just started to require all students to take the ACT”.

It’s not clearly stated on the ODE website addressing their reasoning to making this choice. Is it because they want to give the opportunity of proper test prepping to students in communities that don’t have that access?With the data gathered by Insidehighered.com the racial and ethnicity gap just might point to a maybe. Those of certain ethnicities had a lower composite score than those of others. Once again this isn’t a clear reasoning, but it could be.

With all the prep that students go through for the ACT and the other standardized testing.It may not be worth it. Many colleges in Ohio and in the nation have started skipping the ACT and SAT score requirement and making it optional.

Reported by the Columbus dispatch, Along with forty-seven college and universities, Wesleyan and Baldwin Wallace are making it optional to send in test scores for the ACT or SAT in Ohio. Many schools are saying they are choosing this option for diversity purposes, to reach a wider student applicant. As well as, making the school seem more selective.

Spring has officially sprung. The weather is getting warmer and the trees are starting to bloom, but what’s blooming inside high schools during spring time? The stress of the ACT and SAT testing. What previously was a personal choice for high school juniors and seniors is now a requirement for graduation.

High schools in the Portage County area had to choose between the ACT and SAT as a graduation requirement for their students. As the testing season approaches, schools in the area are hopeful that students benefit from this new type of required testing.

“It was completely up to us as an individual district to decide which route to take,” said Lori Sandel, principal at Waterloo High School.

The ACT is just one of the three options students have to graduate.

“There are three ways students can graduate now. The remediation free ACT test pathway is one way, the WorkKeys is the BioMed and Maplewood career route is how they can graduate without taking the ACT. And the last option is the end -of -course exams which will be in April, “ said Sandel.

The remediation free scores will determine if students can use their score for college entrance.

“Students have to score a remediation free score in order to graduate, but if they don’t get the remediation free then that score will not be used to graduate with,” said Sandel

In an article from education.ohi.gov, it broke down the scores that students have to achieve on these tests in order to meet the requirements. For the ACT in English Language Arts students have to get a score of 18 or higher and in mathematics is a score of 22 or higher.

“This score can be used to put on their college applications if they are happy with that score,” said Sandel.

Not only is the ACT remediation free test an option students can take in order to graduate, the other testing option is the end of course exams, which is more complex with the points students can accumulate.

“The end of course exams are in 7 seven different categories. They are English 9, English 10, geometry, algebra 1, biology, American history, and government through freshmen to senior year and is based on numbers 1 to 5.”

While students have the option to take the end of course exams, there is a stricter point system that needs to meet the requirements in order for them to be able to graduate. Students still have to pass their classes and they have to earn the 18 points on the end of term exams.

“5 being the most you can get and 1 being the least. Students have to accumulate 18 points on those tests to graduate. Students can retake them over and over again just like how the Ohio graduation test’s worked,” said Sandel.

The Ohio department of education has a certain grading scale in which students need to meet the graduation points system. An A or B is considered 5 points, C is considered 4 points, 3 is considered a D. Anything below 3 points is resulted to not applicable and a 0 is considered an F.

Although students can take the end of course exams while accumulating 18 points as a route to graduate, the ACT is now free at the high school and offers testing preparation.

“Online prep is important for our kids nowadays and it is accessible to any location,” said Sandel. “The online program cost the district over $3,000. It’s really costly but we thought it was worth it.”

Even though it took some time to search for the right online testing preparation system, the school chose a program called Edmentum and purchased the materials quickly, which Sandel said it would be most beneficial for their students.

“The online program was purchased in January and we have an assigned time during the week for our juniors with certain teachers. They go online, every week, they can access it everywhere but we still have that set time for them” said Sandel.

Clifford Schmidt is a counselor at the high school and is optimistic about this new testing process for Waterloo high school students.

“We’ve never tested all of our kids before so it will be interesting to see how it goes,” said Schmidt.

Juniors are preparing to take the ACT, March 21 at Waterloo high school, but some students will be taking the test again.

Andrew Gauer is a junior at Waterloo high school and is about to take the ACT for the third time.

“The first time I took it I didn’t study for it and it was pretty difficult. I like the online test prep because the biggest benefit has given me questions to ask my teachers for help when I need it,” said Gauer.

Gauer isn’t the only student who felt like the ACT was difficult, Hailey Fleming is also a junior about to take the test a second time, but is going into it with more preparation.

“The first time going in I went in it to see the format of the test and I feel more prepared with the online things we’ve been given and the resources like the ACT booklets the school offers,” said Fleming.

Cost is another factor that benefited students to take the ACT at the high school, which made it more appealing to them since it will be free.

“It’s about $50 to take the test at a university and I think it’s unfair. For people who have more money, it’s not a problem for them, but if the state pays for it, it’s an advantage to take it more than once,” said Gauer.

Just like Waterloo High school, Field High school in Portage County is now allowing the ACT for their students as a way to graduate as well.

“Our students generally go through the ACT for college entrance and we felt this was an opportunity for our students to take it for free,” said curriculum director, Bethany Hudson.

Testing preparations are offered at Field for their students.

“We do offer an actual class at Field that is an ACT/SAT prep class, but it is optional and we are looking to build that into other classes,” said Hudson.

Schools in Portage county will be doing everything they can to help their students graduate and accommodate their testing needs.