ACT mandated by school

All juniors take standardized test

(Olivia Loomis) Juniors walk into the Arena, where they took the ACT and the ACT WorkKeys on March 3 and March 4 respectively.
(Olivia Loomis) Juniors walk into the Arena, where they took the ACT and the ACT WorkKeys on March 3 and March 4 respectively.

All juniors this year took a school-sanctioned ACT, including the writing portion, on March 4. This is the first year Shorewood is offering the ACT in-school.

The ACT evaluates four basic areas, English, math, reading and science through a multiple-choice assessment. The writing portion of the ACT is a 30-minute timed essay.

Despite uneasiness about another standardized test, students are grateful for the school paying for ACT registration.

“I think it’s actually really nice because it’s free, and I would’ve taken it a third time anyway,” said Genevieve Vahl, junior. “It’s nice that it’s here so I don’t have to go somewhere far away.”

The traditional out-of-school registration for the ACT in $38.00, and with the writing portion, $54.50.

Even though some juniors have already taken the ACT outside of school, SHS wants juniors to repeat testing because the test results of the ACT test held on March 3 will also be used in the SHS State Report Card, a list of statistics used to rank school in Wisconsin.

Teachers and students alike have raised concerns involving the larger implications of state-sanctioned standardized testing and how it relates to accountability in education.

“I see a pressure … to hold teachers accountable for getting students to a certain level of skill proficiencies instead of, ‘lets focus on how do we inspire critically minded human beings,’” said Jeffery Zimpel, teacher.

“It [represents] boiling people down to data points … I’m now seeing pressure to abide by a one size fits all education. If you look at classes that are unique to Shorewood High School … and have withstood [that] shift in educational culture. For instance, Political Theory … we have a class that exists outside that formulaic education model and exposes students to diverse perspectives.” Zimpel said.

Administrators say, however, that the test not only adds to supplementary information.

“Practically every college requires it … The state’s idea was: Why don’t we just have kids take it in a mandatory way? That way everybody has an opportunity to go and have that score,” said Joe Patek, assistant principal.

This ACT, just like any other ACT assessment, can be sent at a student’s request to any college or university with full validity, but the scores will not be automatically sent.

Not everyone is pleased with the mandatory test.

“I’m kind of frustrated about missing two days of school … I’d rather be learning than filling out bubbles,” said Olivia Holbrook, junior.

Holbrook said she has concerns with the testing environment.

“We’re taking it in the arena, and the thing that bothers me is that there’s going to be someone tapping their pencil or moving their chair … I want all this ACT [stuff] to be done with so I can get into schools ‘X,’ ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ … It matters personally for me, so I’d like to be in an environment where I can succeed,” Holbrook said.

According to a statement released on the SHS website, the ACT is a college readiness assessment, but it also can help begin the task of identifying strengths and weaknesses and building up to a career.

Juniors also took the ACT WorkKeys assessment the following day, March 4. ACT WorkKeys is a system which evaluates applied skills and compares students’ skills to the skills and abilities that jobs today require.

“It exposes kids to different options instead of college … This kind of [test] gives kids an idea of what they’re good at,” Holbrook said.

by Kathleen Fatica

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