State changes in accountability are behind testing of all high school juniors and all seniors that have not previously taken the ACT (American College Testing).
"The state is changing part of the accountability program," said Morris Busby, Supervisor of Secondary Education at the Webster Parish School Board. "They want a measurement of every student that graduates. This year we are testing juniors and seniors. Next year, it will only be juniors or any seniors that don't have an ACT score.
Busby said the state uses the ACT as a measurement for School Performance Score.
"They say that by doing this that it will encourage more students to pursue college," he said. "Whatever their highest ACT score is, that is the score that they get to keep."
Seniors who have previously taken the ACT can also re-take the test during the statewide testing.
"What parents do not realize is that the higher (score) a student gets on an ACT and the higher their grade point average is, it will open more doors for higher level TOPS and scholarships. Plus it is used for the PLAN and ACT scores for the criteria to get into Dual Enrollment classes."
Busby said colleges set the criteria.
"We have had kids that have graduated with as many as 30 or 33 hours of college credit before they ever got out of high school," he pointed out.
According to Busby, there are misconceptions about the ACT. There are no penalties for guessing and the test requires test taking strategies. Busby urges students to not leave anything blank on the test.
On March 19, Louisiana will administer the following exams throughout the state:
n 9th grade EXPLORE Exam: This test is similar to the 8th grade EXPLORE and can be used to predict the current level of what a student can expect to score later on the ACT. The test will help the students, parents and teachers to determine the areas of strengths and weaknesses.
n 10th grade PLAN Exam: The PLAN exam has been referred to as a "pre-ACT" exam and is a good indicator of future performance. The PLAN is an entry requirement for dual enrollment classes.
n 11th grade ACT Exam: The ACT is a required exam for admission to all Louisiana colleges and universities and is part of the requirements for TOPS. The timed test covers Math, English Language Arts, Reading and Science.
n 12th grade ACT Exam: Seniors who have not previously taken the ACT must take the test this year. Seniors who have previously taken the ACT may take the exam on March 19 at no-cost.
Preparation for the ACT can be found at www.actstudent.org/sampletest and www.websterpsb.org by clicking on the department tab, then Secondary Supervisor tab.