The State of Arizona Uses a New Test to Determine If Students Are Ready for College

High school students in Arizona might have a bigger worry than if they will win their football games this year. A new study reveals that many of them are not on track to pursue a college education.
In January 2011, the ACT Explore standardized test was given to almost 20,000 eighth-grade students and it showed that many of these students are likely to not be able to pass a college entrance exam, even though 62 percent hope to pursue a four year degree. The test also surveys the students about their interests in order to be able to offer advice concerning future careers. However, if the students are not able to pursue a higher education, their future career options will be limited.
How should the schools combat this discouraging news? Many are planning on using the results to place students in remedial or advanced high school classes, depending on how the students did on the exam. Sadly, this means that about a third of the students will be placed in advanced classes for math and reading, while half will be on track for English classes. The worst of the news concerns science: only 10 percent of the students are on track for this subject.

“A lot of times, students don’t recognize what’s necessary for them to go into certain occupations and careers until it’s almost too late,” said Debra Raeder-Gay. Raeder-Gay is the associate director of the Governor’s Office of Education Innovation, the leaders of this early intervention effort.
In an effort to help students succeed, the Arizona State Board of Education started requiring all ninth grade students to have an academic plan in 2008. This plan helps students see the correlations between their high school classes and any future careers they might be interested in pursuing. It also helps students realize if they need to go to college or not.
I think that this is a great way for schools to better prepare their students for their futures and it looks like the trend will not stop after its first test-run. In the fall, about 40,000 students will be tested, and in 2012, the state hopes to test all eighth graders. It will be interesting to see how this test will impact the personalized levels of attention these students get in their high school educations.