Did you know that the ACT standards relate to not only college-ready skills but also workforce? There is a section of their web site that explains how the results of ACT empirical research were provided to the national task force that wrote the national Common Core, on which the assessments are based. Not only are ACT assessments based on this, but so are the NAEP assessments. The Iowa Assessments, unfortunately, use Iowa-written curriculum (except for math) and lower standards, making them less reliable as a basis for decisions made to improve college and workforce skills of Iowans.
Did you know the ACT has assessments for grades nine through 12, making them a more reliable source for monitoring student progress at national standards, and the quality of the teaching methods for these grades? While NAEP also uses the national Common Core and national standards, it does not test all students. The Iowa Assessments have a decades-long history of lowering standards whenever 50 percent of students did not pass the assessments, and also not testing all students — hence the reason for a national intervention with No Child Left Behind (followed by Every Student Succeeds). All students now must be tested, and states must work their way up to national standards, which Iowa has failed to do in 17 years. Remember just last year Iowa’s ESSA plan called for narrowing the achievement gap (not closing it) by further lowering standards for those demographic groups — which the national government rejected because it is discriminatory. Also rejected was the Iowa plan to close the gap one-tenth of one percent per year.
On a state report of average ACT scores per district, no mention is made of the percentage of students per grade level actually taking the ACTs to produce the averaged results in each district. It varies a lot by district. If only the best students take the ACTs, then the results are inflated, failing to accurately reflect the quality of those schools as well as the quality of the decisions being made about their educational process.
Iowa high schools need to begin using the ACTs for all of those grades to improve the quality of the decisions made, as well as the college and workforce skills closer to national standards. This will, then, point out how much the elementary grades need to improve to provide a better foundation.