ACT Aspire Testing
The Archdiocese of Chicago (AOC) annually administers the ACT Aspire summative test to all students in grades 3-8. The ACT Aspire assesses students’ academic proficiency in five academic areas: English, Reading, Math, Science and Writing according to national standards prescribed by the Common Core Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.
Students complete the exam comprised of multiple choice and extended written responses over four mornings at their schools. Test questions integrate many different skills and vary in depth of knowledge and critical thinking. The older the students grow, so increases the amount of questions that require more depth of knowledge and higher order of thinking skills.
The scores reflect knowledge and skills across grades an evolving picture of student growth. The teachers receive a variety of reports that provide many levels of data on group progress as well as individual student growth. The data the school receives also provides longitudinal growth indicators as well. Since the Aspire Assessment is aligned with the more commonly known ACT Test students take for college admissions, the test also can provide some indicators regarding student college readiness, progress with text complexity, and STEM skills. This actionable data enables our faculty to address students’ strengths, areas for improvement, and student potential.
St. Benedict Prep students scored as “ready” or “exceeds” across grades and subjects. High-level results are below and a link to detailed results is at bottom.
While the teachers use the data for grade level decisions such as student groupings and unit planning, the school also uses the data for school-wide decisions as well. Below are some of the more recent decisions we’ve made because of trends we have seen in the data:
Mathematics – we introduced a new math program in middle school last year and to 5th grade this school year which helps students solve math problems using a variety of skills and concepts. Within our first year, it has already helped improve student growth and mastery.
Reading – While we have achieved the average of “Ready” across the board in reading, we believe we can have our students achieve even better. This current year, we added a full-time reading specialist to work with students who need additional reading instruction. The reading specialist will also coach teachers in best literacy teaching strategies. Last year, we also changed our reading instruction in 4th and 5th grade to novel studies with a focus on literature and literary elements. Additionally, we have spent over $15,000 in new guided reading materials for our students grades K-5.
Writing – Even though our students are achieving the “Exceeding” level in English, it is important that these skills translate into the act of writing. Last year, there was also an effort to focus on writing skills and essay composition. Our middle school grades also began to pilot the ThinkCerca program which integrates essay composition, analysis of authentic periodicals and critical thinking to develop well-constructed, well-informed argumentative writing. The assessment reports were recently released to schools and we are happy to share our academic progress with our community. Please find below the results in all of the five academic categories assessed by the Aspire test, as well as the other points of comparison: The ASPIRE Benchmark for college readiness, the AOC, as well as the national average.
Please see the AOC System-Wide Results for details.