BY MELANIE BUCK –
After much debate, the Arkansas State Board of Education approved a change of testing throughout Arkansas schools on July 9th to begin using ACT Aspire instead of the long-used PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) testing. The governor-appointed Council for Common Core Review had previously made a recommendation for the change but was initially shot down by the Board of Education.
The Council for Common Core Review believes that students will benefit more from ACT Aspire because it follows ACT (American College Testing) closely and ACT testing is what most colleges require for acceptance into their programs.
Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin, who heads up the Council, said, “I applaud the Board’s decision to support the recommendation of the governor and his Council on Common Core Review to replace PARCC with ACT. Today’s vote will serve our children well and bring quality, relevancy and certainty to the testing process.”
The Council recommended using a test prepared by ACT for various reasons, including: the national recognition of ACT; the comparability between states; the minimal time spent testing relative to PARCC (about half the time of PARCC); and the ACT’s relevance to students.
For students, schools, and districts the ACT Aspire provides an array of features and functions that can be scaled for statewide implementations, individual districts, associations of schools or individual schools. ACT Aspire provides a standards-based system of assessments to monitor progress toward college and career readiness from grade 3 through early high school, connecting each grade level to the next. They also provide statewide assessment, data management and reporting functions for all students, districts, schools, aggregated and disaggregated groups of learners, and the individual learner. The ACT Aspire is aligned with the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks and student outcomes align to the Domain and Cluster reporting categories of the Common Core State Standards and have the capability to predict outcomes on the ACT.
Along with assessments and data reporting, there is ongoing research, support, and validation of the system to reflect changes in college and career readiness standards and a flexible professional development on the state, district or school levels
Governor Asa Hutchinson issued a statement in response to the Board of Education’s decision to seek a contract with ACT and ACT Aspire which stated, “I applaud the Board of Education for its vote in switching from PARCC to ACT/ACT Aspire. The board members were thoughtful and deliberate on this issue and reached a final decision that I think is best for our students and teachers over the long term. It provides stability and aligns Arkansas with a nationally recognized testing system.
“I appreciate the hard work of the Board and the meaningful discussions it held on this issue. Its willingness to move away from PARCC and seek this new contract is an indication of the Board’s continued dedication to putting Arkansas’s students first. I especially want to thank Commissioner Key, the Department of Education and members of the Common Core Review Council for their hard work in addressing this matter.”