Putnam City Schools officials are hoping that offering the opportunity to take a free test will boost ACT participation among its high school students.
Last year, 749 students took the ACT, compared to 779 in 2012 and 752 in 2011. The ACT is the primary aptitude test for students seeking entrance into college in this part of the country. Some colleges on the East and West coasts require students take the SAT.
Rick Croslin, Putnam City Schools executive director of secondary education, said some students aren't sure what they will do after high school, which can drive down participation in ACT testing.
“It's mainly about getting kids to understand the need and the opportunity,” Croslin said. “We're looking into being able to test every junior in our school system. That qualifying exam would go out to four colleges and count toward scholarships, and that's something the district would be picking up for free.”
The district also plans to increase awareness of testing dates and preparation and to make sure students and parents learn more about the ACT as they enroll in classes at the beginning and end of each school year.
Additionally, the district is looking at increasing the number of students taking advanced placement classes by identifying students through a Web-based service known as AP Potential. The program analyzes how students perform on the PSAT (a preliminary to the SAT) in the areas of critical reading skills, math problem solving and writing. The district will also look to revise its ACT preparation programs for high school students.
The district has seen an increase in the number of students taking AP courses. Last year, 1,143 students were enrolled in AP courses across three high schools, up from 960 students the previous school year. Students taking AP classes are more likely to take the ACT.
“It's really important for our kids to think about what life is beyond high school and what aptitude and knowledge they have when they graduate,” Croslin said. “Not every student will go to college, but we want every student to be college or career ready.”