Alabama students to take new standardized tests

Alabama Capitol Building

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama public school students will take new standardized tests this spring that, in addition to measuring academic performance, will estimate their eventual score on the ACT college entrance exam.

Alabama schools will use a suite of six tests produced by ACT, Inc. which manufactures the popular college entrance test. The new tests are aligned with the Common Core curriculum standards and replace the Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test and Alabama’s long-standing high school graduation exam.

“Parents, students, and teachers will know by the end of third grade whether each student is on track to be successful upon graduation from high school,” Deputy State Superintendent of Education Sherrill Parris said.

Testing will begin in the third grade. Students in the third through eighth grades will take the ACT Aspire test beginning April 28. Older students will take different tests produced by ACT, Inc. Eleventh-graders will take the actual college entrance exam.

Alabama Superintendent Bice said an advantage of the new tests is that they will give a projection of a student’s eventual score on the ACT college test. Student progress will be tracked through the years.

“We can regularly make sure that children are on the trajectory. Has someone fallen off? What do we need to do differently,” Bice said.

Parris said, for example, if a student wants to become a physicist or engineer, teachers and parents will know early if they need to intervene to improve those science and math scores.

Even though the tests lead up to the ACT college entrance exam, Bice said state school officials aren’t saying every student should, or must, go to college. He said they want to give students that option.

Schools will no longer have multiple days of testing. Students can complete the new test in about four hours, Bice said.

Bice cautioned people not to assume that student performance has declined if students do not perform as well on the new tests as they did on the old. He said the standards are different and the new test scores shouldn’t be compared to the old.

“To compare those, and consider it a drop, is a misuse of those tests results,” Bice said.

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