Defining the line of success

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Defining the line of success

Art by Austin Paulson

Art by Austin Paulson

Art by Austin Paulson

Art by Austin Paulson

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Juniors are being prepped for the ACT, the test that will determine students’ college acceptances, and in some cases, the amount of scholarship money a college will offer a prospective student. In past years, it’s been up to the student’s (and in most cases, parents’) discretion whether the student enrolls in an ACT program or chooses to do nothing.

This year, however, it’s nothing like it used to be—all juniors were required to sign contracts and many are doing mandatory ACT prep.

“I personally thought that [the contracts] weren’t helpful to me at all because someone can’t force me to do well on the ACT. The way I see it, it’s my future and I’m my own motivation; I don’t need a contract to enable me to do better,” junior Angalia Carbonara said.

Juniors were required to fill out a contract setting ACT goals for themselves and threatened with a STEP detention if they failed to return it with both parent and faculty signatures. A smaller group of juniors on the “bubble”—in other words, students two points above or below the benchmarks—were singled out for a second assembly and required to get assistance either through a formal ACT prep class or E2020, a program students are able to do online that is another method of preparation. For students in the bubble, is required.
It’s no suprise the students reacted negatively. Forcing some type of preparation from students isn’t ideal. The students who had to do it wondered why it was only them.

We agree that change isn’t easy, and we think that it could be implemented more smoothly, but we applaud the administration for standing by the mission statement of making every student college-, career- and community-ready.

Last year, few juniors were in favor of going into STEN to participate in mandatory math power review sessions. Yet the average student gain was 2.6 points on the ACT. Clearly it was something we needed, even if it wasn’t something we wanted.

Yes, the current plan isn’t perfect, but this is just the beginning of the initiative. The longer the administration administers the tests and enforces the contracts, the more efficient and successful the plan is likely to be.

“Eventually all grade levels will be preparing. We had to start somewhere,” Ryan Malo, English teacher and RTI coordinator, said.

Some students may argue that the school has only its own interest in mind and that the tests scores will give us more money from the state. The truth of the matter is the school won’t benefit financially. Raising student ACT scores can benefit the school by improving the community’s overall perception of the education KHS provides. Other than that, the only thing the administration will truly gain is pride. The test that effects the school’s federal financing under No Child Left Behind is the PSAE, not the ACT.

Another student concern was that not everyone seemed to be recieving the same amount of attention. Why should the students in the bubble be intensely focused on close the the ACT? Why not everyone?

“Students below the benchmark are provided the same resources and additional resources, the only difference is it’s throughout the whole year. The bubble students are able to improve with a 6-8 week program because of the amount of points,” Chip Hickman, principal, said.

The students who exceed the benchmarks are getting regular attention during school, like any other student but aren’t required to prepare for the ACT through a class or a program like E2020.

Students excessively below or above the benchmarks are being focused on, but there are significant differences between the groups, in terms of individual attention. The bubble students can be addressed in an assembly, the lower-end students can’t be.

A flaw we saw in this was forcing the worksheets so much so that students were threatened with STEP detentions. As teenagers, rebellion arises and following the rules doesn’t exactly come natural to us. Next year, because the administration openly asked for ideas to use for our study halls, we suggest offering ACT preparation classes, free of charge. The cost of ACT classes is a chunk of change and there’s only so much material a computer screen can truly teach someone. Make them ACT-driven and make them optional. More students will take them seriously if they can seek help on their own, without force. Consistently incorporating ACT practice throughout high school and even integrating programs into middle school curriculum can greatly benefit the students who aren’t accustomed working under a time limit.

Clearly, emphasis throughout grade levels can be beneficial. Throwing ACT preparation material at us during the middle of junior year might help some, but we have to be realistic. We have to have realistic goals and realistic expectations. ACT scores don’t affect the school’s budget, we should take the programs seriously. But the administration has to do the same with our concerns.

A 2010 study in the Journal of Applied Psychology noted that more than 400 scientific studies had found that goal setting activities made people more likely to reach their goals. That’s the exact reason the administration prompted the junior class to do what they’re doing now. We all have potential; it just comes down to who makes the most of their opportunities.

So, let’s make the most of this plan.

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