Explanation of What the ACT Aspire Test Is

Both my third-grader and my ninth-grader will take the ACT Aspire assessment test this spring. I can't understand how both can take ACT tests. I thought that the ACT was a college admission test. Please explain exactly what this test is. How will the scores be used? -- Bewildered

Answer: The ACT itself is a college admission test just like the SAT. On the other hand, the ACT Aspire test is an assessment system that measures how students are progressing in each of the grades three through 10. Each grade level covers specific grade level material. For example, third grade covers third-grade content as well as "foundational" skills that students should have learned in previous years in order to be ready to learn at their current grade level.

Students at the early high school (EHS) level (ninth and 10th grades) will learn how they are progressing in meeting college and career readiness in the subject tests they take. The subjects available are English, math, reading, science and writing. The reports will tell the students how they scored on the test, compared with how students across the nation scored. They will also tell if a student has met the readiness benchmark for a subject or is close to the benchmark or needs assistance in a subject. Suggested interventions are provided for students who need improvement. At this level, students also get a prediction of score ranges they might achieve on the ACT for the subjects they take.

The ACT Aspire tests are given in fall and spring test windows. This is probably what your children will be taking. There are also classroom assessments that take about five to 10 minutes in English, math, reading and science for grades three to eight. They are intended to be given between the longer fall and spring tests.

Schools will use the results of these tests to determine whether students are on track for becoming college or career ready. This helps them make curriculum adjustments on a broad level as well as meet individual student needs.

As a parent, you will see how well your children are performing in core areas compared with students across the country.