Essential changes are coming to Kentucky’s public school assessment and accountability program.
A mandatory need for changes to Kentucky’s assessment program and its Unbridled Learning school accountability program is being precipitated by an announcement from the ACT, Inc., that the organization’s EXPLORE and PLAN tests will be discontinued in 2015. Thus, Kentucky can count on using these tests to meet legislative requirements for the assessment and accountability program for only two more school terms, at best.
Senate Bill 1 from 2009 requires readiness tests in the eighth and tenth grade. Until now, EXPLORE and PLAN were by far the best way to meet the requirement. These two ACT tests are closely aligned with the ACT college entrance test and provided eighth and 10th grade students valuable information on how well they are progressing towards college and career readiness. EXPLORE and PLAN also provides helpful guidance information about careers a student might want to consider.
Now, this excellent program, which started in Kentucky in 2006, is going to have to change.
ACT is going to offer new tests, called Aspire Tests. However, Aspire is an uncertain, though potentially very expensive, product at this time. For one thing, Aspire is supposed to primarily be aligned to the Common Core State Standards, making the alignment to the ACT problematic. And, while exact Aspire costs are undetermined, the Kentucky Commissioner of Education mentioned to the State Board that the costs of Aspire will likely be much higher than the current costs for EXPLORE and PLAN combined.