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Killexams : Admission-Tests Assessment practice test - BingNews https://killexams.com/pass4sure/exam-detail/WorkKeys Search results Killexams : Admission-Tests Assessment practice test - BingNews https://killexams.com/pass4sure/exam-detail/WorkKeys https://killexams.com/exam_list/Admission-Tests Killexams : How to Use practice tests to Study for the LSAT No result found, try new keyword!The LSAT is a test ... Admission Council, which administers the exam, has made available more than 70 full, real, past LSAT tests for purchase, either through paperback compendiums of practice ... Tue, 11 Oct 2022 01:36:00 -0500 text/html https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/law-admissions-lowdown/articles/how-to-use-practice-tests-to-study-for-the-lsat Killexams : ACT Score Decline: Lost Learners Not Learning Loss

This past week ACT, the Iowa City-based college admissions test publisher, released its annual performance report with the headline “Average ACT Score For the High School Class of 2022 Declines to Lowest Level in More Than 30 Years.”

This framing predictably sparked a media cycle stating plummeting scores have reached rock-bottom levels. As is far too common when test results are reported, these articles failed to look past the splashy headline and provided no underlying data-informed analysis of score changes. The resulting reporting predictably either parroted the ACT press release or joined the popular narrative of youth in academic decline and failing public schools.

The problem is that the data doesn’t actually show learning loss so much as it demonstrates ACT’s learner loss.

While the national average ACT score has fallen, the explanation for the score drop is far more nuanced than ACT’s press release encourages the media to report.

Yes, for the class of 1991 the average ACT composite score was 22.1 (out of 36) and for the class of 2022 it was 19.8. But for that number to mean the nation has a learning problem, as opposed to ACT having a problem, the examination of test scores must look at the pools of test takers over time and whether they are truly comparable.

Turns out the number of test takers and the demographic composition have shifted in a way that could explain the decline. Unfortunately, most media chose to ignore these shifting demographics (and the rank socioeconomic inequality in the k-12 school system that was recently exacerbated by a pandemic) and imply that students are failing to be taught or to learn.

A bit of history is in order.

The ACT was created in Iowa in 1959 and primarily required by colleges in the Midwest through the 1980s.

In 1990 roughly 35% of U.S. high school graduates took the ACT and many colleges wouldn’t accept it, instead preferring the SAT. It wasn’t until 2007, when Harvey Mudd College finally accepted the test for admission that all colleges in the U.S. accepted the ACT, as equivalent to the SAT.

As more colleges accepted either test for admission, ACT’s share of students increased. From 1990 onward, ACT saw a steady growth in test takers (particularly in coastal states), surpassing the SAT in number of test takers in 2009.

However, since ACT hit its peak participation in 2016 (with 64% of high school graduates taking the test), the company has been shedding test takers and scores have been falling.

ACT says it's a lack of knowledge and skills. But, maybe the answer lies in who has opted out of taking the test. The demographics of students taking the test has shifted.

States with high scoring students have abandoned the ACT at a much faster rate than states with historically lower scoring students. In fact, of the 10 highest scoring states in 2016, the number of ACT test takers dropped by 20,000 more than from the 10 lowest scoring states.

From 2016 to 2022, the lowest scoring 50% of the country shed 296,000 test takers while the highest scoring 50% saw a drop of 444,000 students. These shifts will lower the average test scores no matter what is actually happening in schools under the mantra of “college readiness.”

These changes are in part because states like Illinois, Michigan and Colorado have switched their contract for testing from ACT to the College Board’s SAT.

In other cases, students are opting to apply to college under test-optional or test-free admissions policies. More than 900 colleges offered test optional or free admissions in 2019 and that number spiked to more than 1800 since 2020.

In states, like California and Oregon, where all public colleges are either test-optional or test-free the decline in test takers is particularly drastic, with declines of 74% and 79%, respectively, since 2020.

Why isn’t ACT following best practices and encouraging good data science and good reporting? ACT’s own document warns that “best practice is to compare states where the same or similar percentages of graduates were tested” yet their press release ignores this advice.

Rose Babington, senior director for state partnerships for the ACT, rightfully said “Now more than ever, the last few years have shown us the importance of having high-quality data to help inform how we support students.”

But, what she neglected to emphasize the importance of and provide was high-quality data interpretation.

ACT could have encouraged the media, public, or policy makers to compare ACT score changes to SAT score changes.

SAT scores, which range from 400 to 1600, dropped only 11 points since 2021 and are essentially equal to 2020. Perhaps looking at college admissions tests as measures of national academic progress is not the right data or right use of available data. Looking at test score changes and ignoring underlying demographic changes has never been the right approach.

The misinterpreting of declining SAT scores from a College Board sponsored study, undermined faith in public schools in the 1970s and was used as the basis of the 1983 “Nation at Risk” report that spurred thirty years of test-based “accountability” that hasn’t appreciably benefited public education.

What incentive could a test publisher, especially one losing market share and customers, have to overlook interpretations beyond learning loss and school failure? Babbington may have provided some insight into that as well when she said “I think it also speaks to the need for earlier opportunities for assessment, for instructional improvement, and for conversation.”

ACT and other testing companies would have you believe that if you weigh the pig more frequently, the pig will get fatter. But it doesn’t work that way. You have to feed the pig.

We, the public, need to be wary of simplistic interpretation of complex data. Even if ACT (and SAT) performance wasn’t such a highly coachable socioeconomically correlative phenomenon, giving the test sooner and getting more data won’t Excellerate K-12 education or college readiness. Investing in quality teaching, curriculum, facilities, after-school activities and the tools to combat poverty will Excellerate academic outcomes.

Feed the pig, not the scale.

Mon, 17 Oct 2022 03:54:00 -0500 Akil Bello en text/html https://www.forbes.com/sites/akilbello/2022/10/17/act-score-decline-lost-learners-not-learning-loss/
Killexams : Some Very Contrarian Thoughts on the LSAT (and Law School) No result found, try new keyword!No charge. Here’s a tempest in a teapot for you — should law schools stop requiring applicants to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)? Some people argue vociferously that schools should ... Wed, 12 Oct 2022 22:35:00 -0500 en-US text/html https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/some-very-contrarian-thoughts-on-the-lsat-and-law-school/ Killexams : ACT test scores fall to lowest level in 30 years following pandemic

Scores on the ACT college admissions test by this year's high school graduates hit their lowest point in more than 30 years — the latest evidence of the enormity of learning disruption during the pandemic.

The class of 2022's average ACT composite score was 19.8 out of 36, marking the first time since 1991 that the average score was below 20. What's more, an increasing number of high school students failed to meet any of the subject-area benchmarks set by the ACT — showing a decline in preparedness for college-level coursework.

The test scores, made public in a report Wednesday, show 42% of ACT-tested graduates in the class of 2022 met none of the subject benchmarks in English, reading, science and math, which are indicators of how well students are expected to perform in corresponding college courses.

In comparison, 38% of test takers in 2021 failed to meet any of the benchmarks.

"Academic preparedness is where we are seeing the decline," said Rose Babington, senior director for state partnerships for the ACT. "Every time we see ACT test scores, we are talking about skills and standards, and the prediction of students to be successful and to know the really important information to succeed and persist through their first year of college courses."

ACT scores have declined steadily in accurate years. Still, "the magnitude of the declines this year is particularly alarming," ACT CEO Janet Godwin said in a statement. "We see rapidly growing numbers of seniors leaving high school without meeting college-readiness benchmarks in any of the subjects we measure."

The results offer a lens into systemic inequities in education, in place well before the pandemic shuttered schools and colleges temporarily waived testing requirements. For example, students without access to rigorous high school curriculum suffered more setbacks during pandemic disruptions, Babington said. Those students are from rural areas, come from low-income families and are often students of color.

The number of students taking the ACT has declined 30% since 2018, as graduates increasingly forgo college and some universities no longer require admissions tests. But participation plunged 37% among Black students, with 154,000 taking the test this year.

Standardized tests such as the ACT have faced growing concerns that they're unfair to minority and low-income students, as students with access to expensive test prep or advanced courses often perform better.

Babington defended the test as a measure of college readiness. "Now more than ever, the last few years have shown us the importance of having high-quality data to help inform how we support students," Babington said.

Test scores now are optional for first-year student admission at many institutions. Some colleges, such as the University of California system, even opt for a test-blind policy, where scores are not considered even if submitted.

But many students still take the tests, hoping to get an edge in admissions by submitting their scores. Tyrone Jordan, a freshman at test-optional Arizona State University, said he took the ACT and the SAT to get ahead of other students and help him receive scholarships.

Jordan, who wants to pursue mechanical engineering, said he thinks his rigorous schedule at Tempe Preparatory Academy prepared him for college, and the standardized tests helped support him and his family financially.

"All the test did for me was deliver me extra financial money," Jordan said.

While Jordan was always planning to take the test, many students struggle with access or choose not to take the test since their universities of choice no longer require it. In Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee and Wyoming, everyone is tested.

Wed, 12 Oct 2022 09:50:00 -0500 en-US text/html https://www.cbsnews.com/news/act-college-admissions-test-scores-drop-pandemic-slide/
Killexams : Minnesota tutor discusses why ACT college admissions test scores are at a 30-year low

The ACT College Admissions Test is an academic marker for high school graduates.

But now — the test’s operators say its scores are hitting a thirty-year low.

“Obviously, the biggest factor is the pandemic,” says Rich Frieder, the Executive Director of LearningRX Twin Cities, a private tutoring company. “Schools did the best they could, but many parents felt like they were homeschooling for that year, year-and-a-half, depending on the school situation they were in.”

ACT, the nonprofit that runs the tests, says the class of 2022 averaged a score of 19.8 out of 36.

It’s the first time average test scores have fallen below twenty since 1991.

Minnesota’s average is a bit higher at 21.  

ACT’s CEO Janet Godwin issued a statement saying: “The magnitude of the declines this year is particularly alarming, as we see rapidly growing numbers of seniors leaving high school without meeting the college-readiness benchmark in any of the subjects we measure.”

The nonprofit says 41% of test takers failed to meet benchmarks in English, reading, science and math.

That’s compared to 38% last year.

Those scores indicate how well students are expected to perform in corresponding college courses.

We asked Frieder if he thinks the numbers will rebound to pre-pandemic levels.

“I mean, hopefully at some point,” he says. “I think the more alarming issue is that it has been dropping for thirty years, with the biggest drop being this past year.”

Experts say the numbers reflect a decline in academic preparedness.

Frieder says his clients tell him they feel like they’ve lost a year of school.

But he believes there’s a connection between technology and cognitive skills like memorization.

“Mainly because technology is a great thing, but we don’t often have to remember something,” Frieder notes. “Who was that actor? Well, let me google it. What’s the capital of this? Well, let me hop online and find out.”

He says his company teaches exercises to strengthen memory and information processing.

Skills he says, are especially needed by students taking tests on deadline.

“Especially those kids who have lower long term memory, who have a lower processing speed, lower working memory,” Frieder explains. “When you look at test taking, those are the critical skills. To be able to retrieve information, to be able to process and think quickly, because the ACT test is a timed test.”

Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Heather Mueller issued a statement Wednesday, saying “The class of 2022 has been incredibly resilient, experiencing the pandemic during critical school years, and we are pleased Minnesota students continue to score higher than the national average in all ACT categories.”

Nationwide, scores are falling, but so are the numbers of students taking the ACT.

The Associated Press reports that number has declined 30% since 2018, with some graduates choosing to not go to college, and with test scores now optional for first year admission at many institutions.

But many students still take the tests, hoping to get an edge in admissions by submitting their scores.

Frieder says the cognitive skills of memorization, the quick processing of information, and the ability to use that information to problem-solve, are needed even more during the crucial first year of college, where the workload dramatically increases.

“It can be even harder to store and retrieve that information when your brain’s not trained to do that, up to that point,” he says. “It’s not like a magic pill where all of a sudden, the information’s there and can be retrieved at an ACT test. You have to do the work to make it happen.”

Wed, 12 Oct 2022 16:04:00 -0500 en-US text/html https://kstp.com/kstp-news/top-news/minnesota-tutor-discusses-why-act-college-admissions-test-scores-are-at-a-30-year-low/
Killexams : Worst results in a generation from US college admission tests

Admission test results for students seeking places at US universities have hit their lowest level in more than 30 years.

Officials blamed disruption to learning caused by the pandemic for the drop in scores. The class of 2022 scored an average of 19.8 out of 36 in the American College Testing (ACT) exam, the first time since 1991 that the average has dropped below 20.

In 2021 the average was 20.3. The latest results mark a fifth consecutive year of declining scores and show 42 per cent of students who took the ACT failed to meet the minimum levels required in English, maths, studying and science.

The ACT creates benchmark scores to determine a student’s likelihood of success in their first year of university. Janet

Thu, 13 Oct 2022 18:46:00 -0500 en text/html https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/worst-results-in-a-generation-from-us-college-admission-tests-vmmp0nkpk
Killexams : Financial Advisors Put Their Practice to the Test with Envestnet's Intelligent Financial Life™ Advisor Practice Score

Industry-first interactive assessment shows high-scoring advisors significantly outperform low-scoring peers in total client assets managed

BERWYN, Pa., Oct. 4, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- At a time when traditional financial planning has become table-stakes and clients increasingly seek holistic advice, Envestnet is helping financial advisors understand just how well they stack up. Through a partnership with the financial services research and advisory firm, Aite-Novarica Group; Envestnet has launched the industry's first financial advisor assessment – The Intelligent Financial Life Advisor Practice Score –  evaluating to what degree an advisor is helping clients' achieve peace of mind and financial security regarding their ability to meet all their financial needs and goals. Critically, the assessment yields insights on how an advisor can deliver even greater value and achieve higher levels of client satisfaction to help them grow their practice.

Envestnet https://www.envestnet.com/ (PRNewsfoto/Envestnet, Inc.)

The Intelligent Financial Life Advisor Practice Score interactive assessment can be viewed here.

"Our mission has always been to help advisors make sense of their clients' overall financial picture and empower them to take the advice they give—and their practice—to the next level," said Mary Ellen Dugan, Chief Marketing Officer for Envestnet. "This assessment provides advisors with a way to understand how well they're positioned to help clients navigate their complex financial lives – through their day-to-day and more long-term financial decisions. By expanding their planning approach, advisors can help clients feel more secure in their ability to meet current and future financial obligations."

The accompanying white paper, "Taking the Measure of Advice: The Intelligent Financial Life Advisor Practice Score and How it Benefits Advisors' Practices," analyzes a range of advisor behaviors and capabilities and uncovered five categories that are used to calculate the Advisor Practice Score:

  • Breadth of financial advice provided—Advisors who advise on a wide range of topics, including wealth transfer, tax planning, insurance planning, debt advisory, and cash-flow planning and budgeting, in addition to investing and retirement readiness, produced better outcomes for their clients than advisors whose advice was more narrowly focused.

  • Frequency of multi-goal financial plans—The creation and implementation of comprehensive or multi-goal financial plans for their clients produced better outcomes than advisors who didn't engage in formal plans, or who delivered plans to clients that addressed only one or two goals.

  • Addressing the emotional side of money—Advisors who helped clients understand how their attitudes and behaviors towards money affect their ability to reach their goals, and make these issues a standard part of their practice, produced better outcomes than their counterparts who didn't.

  • Engaging spouses and other family members—The inclusion of clients' spouses and other family members in meetings and conversations about financial goals tended to help advisors achieve better client outcomes.

  • Breadth of capabilities on platform—Even if advisors don't utilize the full range of technology capabilities available to them for crafting and implementing financial plans, just having them at their disposal was shown to help them Excellerate client outcomes.

For advisors, there is a high correlation between achieving a top Advisor Practice Score and managing more client assets. Advisors with a score of 80 or higher manage $443 million in client assets on average – representing 69% more assets then their counterparts who scored in the bottom quartile of the survey, with a score lower than 67.

Methodology

In Q4 2021, Aite-Novarica Group conducted an online study on behalf of Envestnet with 483 professional financial advisors to examine how financial advisors are helping their clients achieve a concept Envestnet developed called "The Intelligent Financial Life" – a unified ecosystem to connect every facet of investors' finances through data driven advice, solutions, intelligence and technology – and to quantify how advisors and their practices benefit from the delivery of this concept to their clients. The survey asked advisors detailed questions about their practice, the nature of their client base, and how they worked with clients. Through analysis of the survey data, Aite-Novarica Group made a quantitative assessment of the extent to which each advisor was delivering financial wellness to clients.

The data for the full demo has a 4-point margin of error at the 95% level of confidence; statistical tests of significance among segments were conducted at a 90% confidence level.

To learn more visit https://www.envestnet.com/intelligent-financial-life.

About Envestnet

Envestnet refers to the family of operating subsidiaries of the public holding company, Envestnet, Inc. (NYSE: ENV). Envestnet is Fully Vested™ in empowering advisors and financial service providers with innovative technology, solutions, and intelligence to help make financial wellness a reality for their clients through an intelligently connected financial life.  More than 105,000 advisors and over 6,500 companies—including 16 of the 20 largest U.S. banks, 47 of the 50 largest wealth management and brokerage firms, over 500 of the largest RIAs, and hundreds of FinTech companies—leverage Envestnet technology and services that help drive better outcomes for enterprises, advisors, and their clients.

For more information, please visit www.envestnet.com, subscribe to our blog, and follow us on Twitter (@ENVintel) and LinkedIn.

Media Contact:
Dana Taormina
JConnelly for Envestnet
envestnetpr@jconnelly.com
(973) 647-4626

Cision

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SOURCE Envestnet, Inc.

Sun, 09 Oct 2022 06:21:00 -0500 en-US text/html https://finance.yahoo.com/news/financial-advisors-put-practice-test-122800061.html
Killexams : State ed officials explore periodic exams as alternative to year-end standardized tests

The release of standardized test scores in Montana has become something of a fall tradition over the past few decades. For one headline-grabbing moment, parents and the public catch a fleeting glimpse of how students statewide performed in key areas such as math, studying and science — a snapshot gleaned from tests administered the previous spring.

Montana’s latest round of student performance data, released last month, seemed to confirm what many school officials and teachers had suspected since COVID-19 first shut down in-person instruction in spring 2020. Student proficiency in math and English slipped from pre-pandemic levels, with some grade levels showing a nearly 10% dip in math scores in particular. The picture prompted Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen to announce an enhanced focus on improving math skills and brought renewed public attention to a suite of pandemic impacts that public schools are still trying to fully understand.

In many Montana classrooms, the pandemic served to underscore pre-existing challenges in public education, chief among them the ongoing need to identify each student’s strengths and weaknesses to better deliver on the Montana Constitution’s promise of a free quality education for all. To that end, many educators agree that year-end test scores — released in the fall after students have moved on to new grades, new classrooms, even new buildings — are of little use in informing day-to-day changes in individual classrooms. That has state education officials Montana looking for alternatives.

Dovetailing with her agency’s release of standardized test scores in September, Arntzen trumpeted the Office of Public Instruction’s rollout of a pilot program designed to explore a new model for gauging student performance. With the backing of $3 million in federal grant funding, OPI’s new Montana Alternative Student Testing (MAST) Pilot Program is looking into replacing Montana’s year-end exams with a series of tests delivered throughout the school year. 

“If you want to get different results, you have to do something different,” Arntzen told Montana Free Press in late September. “I believe we have a lot of stars aligned, that we are listening to our classroom teachers and we are reflecting on making sure that that teacher’s effort in that classroom is being honored. Having that success being reflected in a one-year, one-size-fits-all test does not work.”

Montana isn’t alone in experimenting with a new testing system. According to Meghan McCann, assistant director of policy at the nonprofit Education Commission of the States, Nebraska has been exploring such an approach for several years. Florida passed legislation in March implementing a new assessment model that will test students in grades 3-10 in math and English at three different points in the school year. Lawmakers in Missouri and Kentucky considered similar proposals this year, but ultimately rejected them.

McCann also notes that the U.S. Department of Education this year awarded 11 grants to 10 state education agencies to enhance how they measure student achievement, indicating interest in new approaches to assessment at the federal level.

“One of the allowances and one of the stated purposes for those grants is to allow statewide summative assessments to incorporate multiple measures of student learning,” McCann said. “So I think even the Department [of Education] is sort of putting out there that that’s an option.”

The $3 million in federal funding underpinning Montana’s MAST pilot comes from one of those grants. Twenty districts across the state are participating this fall, administering three tests at three separate points in the school year in grades 5 and 7. OPI declined to identify those districts, noting that the memorandums finalizing their participation would not be completed until October.

ASSESSMENT EXPLAINED

Student assessment is a complicated subject, and understanding where Montana’s new pilot program fits in requires some context. The example of assessment that likely rings most familiar to the broad public is the ACT, a standardized test that many educators have used to gauge college readiness among high school juniors and seniors since the 1960s, or its older cousin the SAT. College admission offices’ reliance on the scores made such tests a high-stakes, high-profile fixture for millions of students, birthing an industry of prep materials and leaving generations with the shared memory of spring days spent inking in the bubbles on an answer sheet.

That widespread relatability makes the ACT a prime illustration of what’s known as a “summative assessment.” Such tests are engineered to determine whether students have gained a certain level of subject-area proficiency by the end of a given year, and their use extends well beyond college readiness. 

In the wake of the 2001 passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, summative assessments in grades 3-8 have become a mandatory accountability metric by which federal and state agencies measure a school’s performance and progress. Data gleaned from those tests has highlighted learning gaps between particular groups of students, fueling discussions about historically underserved populations in public education. Heather Peske, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, said identifying such gaps is one of many reasons summative assessments “serve a very clear purpose.”

“For a number of years, we didn’t know how we were doing in educating students of color, particularly African-American Black students and Latinx or Hispanic students. We just simply didn’t know,” Peske told MTFP in an interview. “We cannot responsibly educate kids without knowing how they’re doing on a standardized assessment that compares students to a set of standards that we know they need to learn by the end of each grade.”

In addition to the ACT, administered in high school, Montana requires an end-of-year math and English language skills test known as the SBAC to all students in grades 3-8. Students with significant cognitive disabilities get a test called the Multi-State Alternate Assessment. Students in grades 5, 8 and 11 are also tested on science proficiency.

School Administrators of Montana Executive Director Rob Watson has often heard those summative assessments described as “an exercise in perseverance.” Students take them over the course of several days, he said, and since the computerized tests are adaptive, one missed question will elicit more questions related to the associated skill until the system “gets an idea of where your abilities are.”

“I heard that just this last week from a group of educators that happen to work with some of our more struggling students in the state, perhaps students with learning disabilities or students that are missing some skills,” said Watson, who formerly served as superintendent in both the Missoula and Bozeman school districts. “Those were their words, just in terms of you really have to have a kid that’s willing to persevere to get through all of it. And a lot of kids just deliver up on it.”

But again, that sort of end-of-year testing isn’t much help to teachers when it comes to tailoring classroom instruction to meet the needs of individual students. In the words of Billings Schools Superintendent Greg Upham, you wouldn’t teach guitar by telling a student to practice for nine months and then testing them. You’d assess the student’s progress along the way to figure out if they need extra time or help to, say, perfect a C chord.

That’s where “formative assessment” comes into play. By implementing routine tests at different points in the school year, educators can get a more immediate picture of how their students are doing in real time, and adjust their instruction to address any areas where performance is lagging. Unlike summative assessments, Montana doesn’t have a uniform statewide formative assessment, leaving it up to local districts to find one that fits with state education standards and local curricula.

According to Anne Keith, a retired Montana schoolteacher who currently sits on the state’s Board of Public Education, formative testing is a tool that educators have long put to use at the classroom level. Keith herself relied on such assessments from “day one” in her 30-year teaching career. As a teacher, she said, a test that clearly marks an individual student’s progress during the school year is far more valuable than a standardized test that compares them to other students in their grade nationally.

“What my job as a teacher is is to take every one of those kids and get them to grow as much as possible within the time that I have them,” Keith said. “So if I have a test that could show you, ‘Hey, your kids started at second-grade level and now they’re up to fifth-grade level, they made three grade-level gains in the time we’ve had them,’ that’s phenomenal.”

HOW WE GOT HERE

Debate about assessment is hardly new. Peske, Upham and others interviewed for this story noted that student assessment has long played a crucial role in measuring academic growth and informing classroom instruction. But as standardized testing became more entwined with federal regulation and the development of educational standards, the notion of a single test as an accurate barometer for student achievement received pushback. Grounds for criticism have run the gamut, from teachers and parents maligning the number of tests students have to take each year to a 2012 Brookings Institute report determining that mandated summative assessments collectively cost schools across 45 states $669 million annually.

The weight given to such assessments also fueled ongoing concerns about the pressure they apply to students. Keith likened high-stakes end-of-year tests to a “big state championship game,” with classroom instruction grinding to a stop for a week.

“We make a huge deal about it,” Keith said. “That’s good for some kids, they rise to that. And there’s some kids that freak out and don’t perform well with all this pressure on them.”

The tests at the center of that debate took a hiatus in spring 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic prompted nationwide school closures, the federal government waived mandatory assessments for the year. Testing resumed in spring 2021 despite opposition from Arntzen and education officials in half a dozen states. Arntzen’s second plea to the Department of Education for cancellation of mandatory assessments drew the support of Gov. Greg Gianforte, the Montana Board of Public Education, and the Montana Federation of Public Employees, whose president, Amanda Curtis, wrote that testing was the last thing students and teachers needed after a period of “unprecedented upheaval.”

According to McCann, the pandemic has brought new focus to the broader assessment debate. As a result of the temporary pause in the nation’s accountability system for public education, many educators have now begun to ask a more critical and fundamental question.

“We’ve been doing this for a long time, we’ve been giving these tests for a long time,” McCann said. “But why, and what are they used for?”

Prior to this fall’s rollout of the MAST pilot, OPI convened a task force of teachers, principals, superintendents and curriculum directors to sort through such questions and put a finer focus on what, exactly, Montana needed from a new assessment system. The group met throughout June and July to discuss the state’s challenges and goals, and to hammer out details of how a through-year assessment would be administered and how resulting scores would be reported to educators, students and parents. In its final report, the task force also reached a conclusion regarding what the pandemic revealed about the failure of Montana’s existing summative testing model.

“Stakeholders had placed so much emphasis on end-of-year test results that, when the test disappeared, they felt they were left with no data,” the task force wrote. “Having a set of assessments aligned with state content standards and administered throughout the year would have avoided this predicament.”

The task force further recommended that it, or a similar group, continue to help oversee the pilot program during its implementation, and that students, test coordinators and school counselors be added as “formal members” of the oversight entity to provide routine feedback to OPI.

While America’s public education system has spawned a wide array of assessment types to serve various purposes, the formative approach is where the task force and OPI opted to focus the state’s attention. Arntzen’s path forward would, in theory, replace the summative assessments that Montana schools have administered over the past two decades with a model more in line with what districts have to date done on their own. Such a replacement would require the federal government to grant Montana certain flexibility in reporting test scores, which Arntzen acknowledges isn’t a guarantee. But she said the MAST pilot, if successful, promises to cut down on duplicative assessment, soften the high-stakes feel of statewide testing, and provide teachers with data that more accurately reflects their students’ current skill levels.

Arntzen added that the timing of the pilot program is particularly opportune given her agency’s ongoing work to revise statewide standards for math, creating an opportunity to better align through-year testing with the skills Montana expects from public school students. A similar review of the state’s studying standards is scheduled to start by the end of next year. Arntzen also indicated that the coming legislative session will likely involve discussions about the state’s definition of proficiency. 

At the same time, higher education officials in the state have followed a national trend toward deemphasizing the role of standardized testing in college admissions. The Montana Board of Regents temporarily waived test score requirements for incoming students during the pandemic, and voted in May 2021 to make the move permanent. While still a required part of certain scholarship packages, ACT and SAT scores are no longer a mandatory component for admission on Montana campuses. According to McCann, the same is now true in 27 other states.

Referencing last month’s latest round of assessment data, Arntzen said she’s hopeful that this whirlwind of activity, including the pilot program, can start to shed light on questions that Montana has long had difficulty answering.

“In the data that we have on the summative test right now, it is so challenging to see what happens in eighth grade,” Arntzen said. “Eighth grade math is 42% novice, meaning they don’t — the light’s not on yet. And then in third grade, when we first test them, it’s 27% [novice]. So in other words, there’s something going on between third grade and eighth grade where students aren’t recognizing their own learning and they’re not growing.”

INTEREST AND HESITATION

While the pandemic created breathing room for states to begin reexamining their approach to student assessment, it’s also the reason that Russ Lodge, interim superintendent at Missoula County Public Schools, passed on participating in the MAST pilot this fall. He’s intrigued by the idea and eager to see what the program yields, but said his district is maintaining a focus this fall on filling staff shortages and understanding and addressing the social-emotional impacts COVID-19 had on its students. 

“We’re not chasing test scores,” Lodge said. “I want everybody to just relax. You know, if your class comes in and scores aren’t what you’d like them to be or what you were used to seeing 10 years ago, that’s fine. Build a relationship, work in your [personal learning communities] and we’ll move on. We’ll be fine.”

In Billings, Upham expressed a similar reluctance to sign his district on to the effort. With accurate updates to local curricula and ongoing efforts to address deficiencies particularly at the elementary school level, he said, his administration “didn’t want to put one more thing on teachers’ plates” this year.

“It’s the right thing, wrong time for us,” he said. “I’m in support of it. I think it’s the right thing to do. I just don’t want to put one more thing on our teachers.”

For participating districts, the MAST pilot won’t replace summative assessments, which are still required next spring, nor will it replace their internal formative testing systems. Rather, those districts are volunteering to take on an extra layer of testing in the hopes that the results provide compelling and actionable information for the state.

Montana Federation of Public Employees President Amanda Curtis, a former schoolteacher whose organization represents public school employees across the state, expressed a similarly mixed sentiment about the effort this year. A test that clearly marks how students are progressing during the school year is certainly more useful for teachers than a test showing how last year’s students performed, Curtis said. But Curtis said the best administrators she has worked for have advised teachers to prioritize developing their students into confident, critical thinkers and to not focus too heavily on standardized testing. At the end of the day, she said, a pilot like this really isn’t anything new for a seasoned educator.

“Teachers are used to being told they need to try new tests,” Curtis said. “Well, they’ll do these and see if Elsie thinks that they work.”

Kalispell Schools Superintendent Micah Hill said his district will be helping the endeavor in a limited capacity this school year. Aware of the ongoing challenges raised by fluctuating enrollment during the pandemic, Hill kept Kalispell’s participation in the MAST pilot confined to fifth-graders at one elementary school and a seventh-grade cohort of roughly 125 students. He said the district has yet to see what the MAST assessments, produced by a national nonprofit called New Meridian, look like. But he views the program as a chance to determine whether a series of 15- to 20-minute tests throughout the year can satisfy the needs of the public education system.

“This is something that we’ve been asking for, I think, as an education community for 10 years,” Hill said. “We recognize that these final summative assessments just are not what our students need, and they’re not what our teachers need to be able to gauge their effectiveness to whether or not students are learning.”

Under OPI’s current schedule, the MAST pilot program will expand during the 2023-24 school year to include students in grades 4 and 6, and expand again the following year to collect data in grades 3 and 8 before the state formally submits a plan to the federal government revising its accountability system. By then, OPI will be under the leadership of a new state superintendent, as Arntzen will close out her final term at the end of 2024.

Whether the pilot ultimately leads to a significant change in Montana’s student assessment system, its development and rollout have nudged the conversation around standardized testing in a particular direction. Several years ago, Watson said, the likelihood of getting the U.S. Department of Education’s blessing at the end of such an experiment would have been slim. Now, the agency’s willingness to invest $3 million in the MAST pilot suggests at least a passing federal interest in exploring new approaches to collecting educational data. Even so, Watson cautions against placing too much emphasis on a single assessment, especially when it comes to defining a school’s performance.

“It’s hard to say if a school’s a passing school or a failing school because there’s so much more to a school than just that one test,” Watson said. “But in a lot of other states, that’s what it’s kind of boiled down to. However kids do on that assessment determines if it’s a failing school or not. I would hope that most Montanans know a lot more about their school and would have other ways to assess whether it’s a good school or a school that needs help.”

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Killexams : ACT test scores drop to lowest in 30 years in pandemic slide

PHOENIX (AP) — Scores on the ACT college admissions test by this year's high school graduates hit their lowest point in more than 30 years — the latest evidence of the enormity of learning disruption during the pandemic.

The class of 2022's average ACT composite score was 19.8 out of 36, marking the first time since 1991 that the average score was below 20. What's more, an increasing number of high school students failed to meet any of the subject-area benchmarks set by the ACT — showing a decline in preparedness for college-level coursework.

The test scores, made public in a report Wednesday, show 42% of ACT-tested graduates in the class of 2022 met none of the subject benchmarks in English, reading, science and math, which are indicators of how well students are expected to perform in corresponding college courses.

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In comparison, 38% of test takers in 2021 failed to meet any of the benchmarks.

“Academic preparedness is where we are seeing the decline," said Rose Babington, senior director for state partnerships for the ACT. “Every time we see ACT test scores, we are talking about skills and standards, and the prediction of students to be successful and to know the really important information to succeed and persist through their first year of college courses.”

ACT scores have declined steadily in accurate years. Still, “the magnitude of the declines this year is particularly alarming," ACT CEO Janet Godwin said in a statement. "We see rapidly growing numbers of seniors leaving high school without meeting college-readiness benchmarks in any of the subjects we measure.”

The results offer a lens into systemic inequities in education, in place well before the pandemic shuttered schools and colleges temporarily waived testing requirements. For example, students without access to rigorous high school curriculum suffered more setbacks during pandemic disruptions, Babington said. Those students are from rural areas, come from low-income families and are often students of color.

The number of students taking the ACT has declined 30% since 2018, as graduates increasingly forgo college and some universities no longer require admissions tests. But participation plunged 37% among Black students, with 154,000 taking the test this year.

Standardized tests such as the ACT have faced growing concerns that they're unfair to minority and low-income students, as students with access to expensive test prep or advanced courses often perform better.

Babington defended the test as a measure of college readiness. “Now more than ever, the last few years have shown us the importance of having high-quality data to help inform how we support students,” Babington said.

Test scores now are optional for first-year student admission at many institutions. Some colleges, such as the University of California system, even opt for a test-blind policy, where scores are not considered even if submitted.

But many students still take the tests, hoping to get an edge in admissions by submitting their scores. Tyrone Jordan, a freshman at test-optional Arizona State University, said he took the ACT and the SAT to get ahead of other students and help him receive scholarships.

Jordan, who wants to pursue mechanical engineering, said he thinks his rigorous schedule at Tempe Preparatory Academy prepared him for college, and the standardized tests helped support him and his family financially.

“All the test did for me was deliver me extra financial money,” Jordan said.

While Jordan was always planning to take the test, many students struggle with access or choose not to take the test since their universities of choice no longer require it. In Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee and Wyoming, everyone is tested.

The Associated Press education team receives support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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