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ACT: Testing That Counts!

April 17, 2017

According to Richard P. Phelps, PhD testing scholar and economist, 93% of studies on student testing (including the use of large-scale and high stakes standardized tests) found a “positive effect” of student achievement. Though the overall effect may be positive, not too often do we hear of students singing praises to the standardized testing regime. However, students at Weeping Water Public High School and across the state may be singing a different tune.

Each year high school juniors across the state are required to take a series of tests administered by Nebraska Department of Education. Since 2010, the NDE has required Nebraska State Accountability (NeSA) testing. NeSA testing replaced all previous school-based assessments for local, state and federal accountability. Consisting entirely of multiple choice items in the areas of Reading, Mathematics and Science, NeSA tests we administered online in schools across the state.

This year the NDE is changing it up with the intention of collecting accurate data and meaningful testing for students state-wide. After successful pilot results, NDE has moved past NeSA and onto the American College Test (ACT). Though it is in its first couple years as a NDE state required test, taking the ACT as the standardized test for juniors is INDEED having a positive effect.

Requiring every junior in the public school system of Nebraska to take the ACT creates a meaningful testing opportunity for students and the opens the door to higher education. Encouraging students to take standardized testing seriously, as results often reflect on the schools in addition to the individual students, has always been a challenge. Now that students are taking the ACT as their required standardized test, the dollar can assist in motivating students.

The state of Nebraska will pay for the registration and administration of one ACT for each high school junior. Students who could not traditionally afford the registration fees that come with the ACT will now have the opportunity to test and be rewarded for their knowledge. The NDE along with the ACT and associates are allowing juniors to keep the ACT score earned on their school’s testing date. Meaning if a student is satisfied with the ACT score they earned through NDE testing, they may use that score when applying to colleges and for scholarships. With the potential of saving money by not registering for the test, having to register for multiple tests and the possibility of their score earning them various scholarships, motivating students to try their best for the test isn’t a difficult job.

Weeping Water High School has gone through a series of test prep for both students and staff alike. Assisted by Derek Gangwish of Educational Service Unit three (ESU3), Curriculum Director and Elementary Principal  for WWPS Dawn DeTurk, and school Counselor Dawn Bickford, the Weeping Water team of educators have attended workshops, applied content in the classroom(s) and provided the opportunity for all involved to be successful with the test and testing.

The identified members provided testing material and strategies for students to take advantage of. In the fall WWPS students attended on-campus workshops with John Baylor, a professional in the preparation and strategical education of ACT test takers. In addition to the fall program with John Baylor, beginning of January, twice a week, juniors would have a class period of English and Government dedicated to online ACT prep. The online prep program was provided by the NDE. Each student was given a login where they could logon and take a series of questions, tests and review tools. The students’ questions were calculated per click and provided immediate feedback with the correct answer and progress percentile of test completion.

This Wednesday, April 19, Weeping Water juniors will be bussed down town where their state required ACT will be proctored. The juniors will arrive at school at the normal start time. After a morning of testing, they will return to school and be dismissed accordingly. Weeping Water Public School staff is excited for the opportunity for the juniors and appreciative of the cooperation and encouragement from all involved.



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