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ACT Insights from PHS Staff
By Justice Udelhofen
Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The ACT is mandated testing that covers four academic skill areas; English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science Reasoning, used for college admissions in the United States. In Potosi, you take the ACT as a junior and, boy oh boy, is it stressful; at least it was for me. Some of the staff here at Potosi has explained how the ACT is approached in staff meetings, how they implement  ACT standards into their teaching, what the district goals are, how to meet those goals, and what the results have been.

Mrs. Foote is the new District Assessment Coordinator (DAC), taking on new roles this year, as our previous DAC Mrs. Hutchcroft returns to teaching full time, “which is something I love and want to do, so it somehow fell into my lap.” 

Mrs. Foote shared her opinion that teachers, “should be addressing [ACT standards] in how they assess their curriculum.” She explained that teachers have been looking closely at ACT standards during their inservice times, but she said, “It shouldn’t even be in inservices, it should be always!” Essentially Foote says that though the topic must be talked about during inservices, the teachers should always be assessing students through the tests they take, the way they learn, and so on.

Mrs. Hutchcroft talked about the changes she has made, personally, to her curriculum. Even though she is not a core subject, “I can do the reading, writing, and those activities, and strengthen.” She is all about, “what can I do to help our kids be better, and how can I be better?” The way that teachers are presenting their materials in class is aligned with the Common Core Standards, “which in theory are aligned with ACT standards,” said Mrs. Foote, to emphasize her point that every day, in everything a student does, teachers should be paying attention and adjusting their curriculum to better prepare the students for the upcoming ACT or the next level, such as college, or whatever lies next for the students.

The ACT standards, “definitely affect what I teach, but they probably affect how I teach more,” Mrs. Hucthcroft stated. For the most part, teachers must hit and teach certain concepts, but the way in which they deliver their content can make a huge difference to students. “I’m taking the ACT standards and looking at which ones I’m currently covering, and then I look at which ones are hit a lot on the test and how they mesh up, so I can make adjustments,” Mrs. Hucthcroft explained. Making adjustments in the classroom is a huge part of helping students be successful when it comes to taking big exams, such as the ACT. 

The school’s goal for the ACT is to have every junior to be at or above the state cut level the score that distinguishes between passing and failing. “Wisconsin tends to do very well on the ACT, so our state cut scores are always a little higher than the national cut scores,” Mrs. Foote states before sharing the results with me. The results for the testing class of 2018-2019 are as follows: 27 students were tested, and 52% of those met the college benchmarks for readiness in English. 52% of the people in the state also met this benchmark, so we were even with the state. For math, 33% of our students met the benchmark, and in the state, 31% met the benchmark. In reading, 37% of our students met the benchmark, and in the state, 38% met the benchmark. In science, 41% of our students met the benchmark and only 33% in the state met the benchmark. In our school, 22% of students met all of the benchmarks and in the state only 21% met all the benchmarks. “So if you just look at that figure, we’re doing okay,” said Mrs. Foote.  

Mrs. Foote claims, “Apparently Potosi’s high school kids need to read more! But couldn’t everybody stand to read more? It’s becoming a trend among everybody; we don’t read enough.” Reading benefits students in all areas of the ACT, so Mrs. Foote recommends reading more as a simple way to continue to improve scores.