ACT mandated in WI high schools


Brett Gruetzmacher

In the main gymnasium, 400 Brookfield Central sophomores and juniors are taking the practice ACT Oct. 15.

March 3, all Brookfield Central juniors will be taking the ACT (American College Test) as a part of a bill passed by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The ACT, which includes the writing portion, is paid for by the state, so all students will be able to take the standardized test for free. Scores from this ACT can be sent to students’ colleges of choice and will be assessed the same as if the test were being taken separately from school.
The day after taking the ACT, March 4, all juniors will also be taking the ACT WorkKeys. This test, which is typically not taken in conjunction with the ACT plus writing, is used to help students find areas of acceleration that might someday help them specialize in a specific workforce or occupation. The official website for the ACT and the ACT WorkKeys says, “ACT WorkKeys is a job skills assessment system that helps employers select, hire, train, develop, and retain a high-performance workplace.”
For those who are not familiar with the ACT, it is a standardized test with five sections comprised of English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and Writing (which is optional when not taking the test as a part of the requirement at school). The test with all five parts is 205 minutes, not including any breaks in between sections. The scoring scale for the ACT ranges from 0 to 36, with 36 being the highest score a student can obtain. Most colleges accept the ACT interchangeably with the SAT as a form of standardized testing, although some still require SAT II tests.
Historically, or at least in the last decade or so, Brookfield Central and the Elmbrook School District overall have performed very well on the ACT and are hoping to improve those scores in the near future. According to the Elmbrook School District website, in 2013, 87.1% of BCHS students took the ACT and scored an average composite score of 24.5, while 89.0% of BEHS students took the ACT and scored an average composite score of 25.3. BCHS hopes to surpass these marks with their new goal of bringing the average score up to a 27 in the next three years; thus the saying: “great to greater.”
There are many test prep options to utilize in order to study for this test, many of which can be found in the guidance office, the Guidance College Testing Website, and the Elmbrook Schools website under Brookfield Central. Three different types of test prep classes are being offered at BC in the weeks preceding the ACT. One class, offered by ZAPS Learning Company, is a one day seminar that takes place on Saturdays. Another is a choice from Wisconsin Test Prep which offers strategy-based workshops. A third option is both strategy-based and content-based workshops offered by Scholar’s Choice in the evenings and on Saturdays.
Overall, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction as well as the Elmbrook School District and Brookfield Central hope that this test will offer a chance for students to try out the test or improve from having previously taken it. Mr. Gruetzmacher agrees with this and said, “It [the ACT] is going to give kids who weren’t going to take it the opportunity to take the test as well. It’s going to be a free opportunity, and I recommend kids to prep and get themselves mentally prepared for it just like they do for the ones on Saturday.”