As a part of the high school experience, there are a number of opportunities to take various nationally normed assessments during the school day. Among them are, the Pre-ACT, Practice ACT, ACT, ACT WorkKeys, ASVAB and the PSAT. Each provides information designed to identify a student’s academic achievement and areas for growth. Furthermore, the exams generate a score which is used to determine the relationship of a student’s performance to that of others who’ve taken the same assessment. The score is also used as a measure to determine the extent of scholarship money one can expect to receive toward future college expenses. In addition to the score, the student receives material which identifies areas for growth along with recommendations and strategies for improving their performance on a future attempt.
Twice during the school year, our Belton High School students are provided an opportunity to experience “Test Day / Senior Exploration Day.” This occurs one day in October and another in April. In addition to the benefits identified above, the uncommon act of taking a “timed” test which requires three to four hours of an enduring focus is something to be practiced. Depending upon grade level and special circumstance, the day is typically scheduled as follows:
Sophomores... Pre-ACT; *PSAT ASVAB
Juniors… Practice ACT; *PSAT ACT, ACT WorkKeys or ASVAB
**Seniors… Practice ACT, ACT WorkKeys, exploration ACT WorkKeys, exploration
Each of the above-mentioned assessments serves a specific purpose and the timing of our administering them is intentional.
- The Pre-ACT is fashioned after the ACT and aligned with curriculum most often found at the Sophomore level. It is designed to help students practice for the ACT test experience and empowers them with valuable data and insights.
- The Practice ACT is simply a prior year’s version of the ACT. BHS staff provide the scores earned, review the data and construct practice sessions designed to address the areas for improvement for both the individual student as well as the larger group based upon identifiable patterns.
- The ACT is the leading US college admissions test measuring what one learns in high school and is designed to determine college readiness.
- The ACT WorkKeys provides a credential which verifies the skills found to be the most essential to industries and occupations. A growing number of organizations and businesses across the region are using these results to help identify the strongest candidates for their workforce needs.
- The ASVAB is a multiple-aptitude battery that measures developed abilities and helps predict future academic and occupational success in the military. For the student, the instrument is also used as a tool to consider possible occupational opportunities which align with their abilities whether or not they have an interest in a career in the military.
- *PSAT… The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is a standardized test administered by the College Board and co-sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). It is a great primer for the SAT and even the ACT, but it is more than just a trial run. PSAT scores are used to identify National Merit Scholars and award merit scholarships. (The test date is predetermined and thus, the PSAT is administered on a date other than our school-wide test day.)
**Note: Seniors also have the opportunity to forego school attendance and use this day to “explore” future options. This would include activity such as: visits to College campuses or potential worksites and time to complete application forms. On our “Test Day / Senior Exploration Day,” there are those who do opt to report to school for the purpose of completing school work, making up attendance hours or collecting some service hours.
The value of providing BHS students with these opportunities during the school day cannot be overstated. The exposure to the various assessments, the challenge of “sitting for an exam” of these types and dealing with “test fatigue”, the feedback regarding comparative data as well as the helpful hints provided for future success represent a few of the benefits derived from our administering these exams as a part of the BHS experience. Certainly this exercise has associated costs, but no one disputes… our BHS students are well worth it. They are our “why” and this is “why” we do invest in this opportunities.