State Superintendent Tony Ever's proposal to replace WKCE tests with a suite of ACT assessments to measure student learning and better prepare the state’s youth for post-secondary education careers will not impact Hamilton School District as much as other districts, according to school officials.
About 77 percent of Hamilton High School juniors currently take the ACT test on a voluntary basis, while the district requires all ninth graders to take the ACT EXPLORE and all tenth graders to take the ACT PLAN.
"Our trend, the percentage of kids taking the ACT, was going up anyway over time," said Denise Lindberg, the district spokesperson.
One change within Evers' proposal that will have an effect on Hamilton High School students is a requirement to take Workkeys, an assessment to determine a student's job skills and their preparedness for the workforce.
"That's the biggest change for us," said Lindberg. "That will be more information for students, parents and guidance counselor to know about students and their interests."
Lindberg noted that the assessment will be valuable for all students, regardless of the career or academic path they choose. Guidance counselors will helps students interpret the results of the each of the assessments.
The cost to administer the series of four tests is roughly $7 million, and the suite is part of Evers’ 2013-15 budget proposal.
Some of the cost would be offset by not administering the WKCE.
“There’s a cost to this. Quality does cost,” Evers said. “I think this is a huge step forward for Wisconsin to consistently address career and college preparation. This will be a priority moving forward.”
Evers said the current WKCE assessment doesn’t provide much incentive for students to do well. The ACT assessment, however, would count for the future educational goals of students and is a more accurate assessment of student learning.
“It will serve as a great early warning system for students, which will help us make sure they are planning in an effective way,” Evers said.
Approximately 61 percent of all the state’s high school students already take the ACT examination. Evers’ plan would ensure all students take it as part of their high school experience. In rural parts of the state many students lack access to ACT testing centers, but every school would become a certified testing center under his plan.
Several states have already mandated the ACT assessment for high school students. Milwaukee Public Schools have also required the ACT assessment.
“This budget proposal will meet the demand for accountability that matters,” Evers said. “The ACT suite will provide multiple measures of student achievement that give a picture of individual and school growth for high school accountability.”