ADE Director's Communication Memo Form

Memo Number : COM-10-073

Date Created : 10/27/2009


Co-op Directors
High School Principals

Type of Memo: Administrative
Response Required: Yes
Section:   Accountability - Dr. Charity Smith, Assistant Commissioner
Voluntary Universal ACT Assessment

Regulatory Authority:
Ark. Code Ann. § 6-18-1601 et seg. ( Act 881 of 2007)

Contact Person:
Berthenia Gill

Phone Number:


Act 881 of 2007 established the Voluntary Universal ACT Assessment program (VUAA), which provides an opportunity for all students in grade eleven (11) to participate in a school day administration of the ACT assessment. The purpose of this Act is to improve the college readiness of all students in Grade 11 and to help prevent or minimize college remediation.

During the 2008-2009 school year approximately 63 school districts successfully participated in the inaugural year of the program using National School Lunch Act (NSLA) funding. However, during the 2009-2010 school year, the Department of Education will cover the cost of the basic test for all school districts wishing to participate. The basic test includes reading, mathematics, science and English. The ADE is pleased that schools have chosen to participate in the 2009-2010 Voluntary Universal ACT Assessment (VUAA) opportunity.

Change in Reporting of Scores

Initially, ADE believed that the college-reportable Grade 11 ACT scores would not be counted in the ACT High School Profile: Graduation Class Reports. The Department’s original purpose was to use score reports for course selection, academic planning, and for diagnostic purposes only. Additionally score reports were to be used to help increase college readiness and to encourage greater participation in the rigorous Smart Core coursework. However, recent written ACT policy, dated September 14, 2009, dictates that tests of all valid, college-reportable scores shall be included in the ACT High School Profile: Graduation Class Reports. Although the ADE reiterated its origination position in subsequent meetings, ACT was unable to change the national polices. Therefore, ADE is informing schools that it is possible that school, district and state average ACT scores will decline when testing includes all students instead of the self-selected population. Please note that the ACT testing population tends to be a self-selected group of students interested in attending college, so statewide testing brings a wider range of students into the mix, and may include many students from groups traditionally underrepresented in the pool of potential college-going students. However, the long-term
advantages of providing an opportunity for all students to participate in a college readiness assessment on a school day outweigh the initial change in scores.

The ADE and ACT will positively communicate to the general public the potential for change in scores based on the increased population size in order to alleviate concerns. According to ACT, each state choosing to implement statewide ACT testing has seen steady improvement over time. Therefore, based on the above information regarding ACT score reporting policies, the ADE is providing schools the opportunity to reconsider the decision to participate in the Voluntary Universal ACT Program based on this new information. If the school chooses not to participate, please complete the notification form attached by October 26, 2009.

The Implementation Broadcast Training

The Implementation Broadcast Training for schools that continue participation has been rescheduled for October 28, 2009. Access information for the training will be forwarded to you by ACT.

In order to avoid conflicts with End-of-Course testing, the school day test date for ACT has been scheduled for May 12, 2010, with NO make-up date. The special accommodations testing window is April 28-May 12. Pre-testing (preparation) for special accommodations must be completed before April 28.

Additionally, Grade 11 students within participating districts unable to participate during the school day administration of the test due to extenuating circumstances approved by the principal, may take the test on any of the Spring National testing dates pre-determined by ACT for the 2009-2010 school year with the exception of the June date. Vouchers for students taking the test on one of the Spring National testing dates will be discussed during the implementation broadcast.

For further information, districts should contact Berthenia Gill at 501-682-5030 or Willie Morris at 501-682-4472.


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