Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

ACT Selected to Develop Framework for New National Writing Test

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

ACT Selected to Develop Framework for New National Writing Test

Article excerpt

IOWA CITY, IOWA

ACT Inc., best known for the exam it, gives each year to thousands of college hopefuls, has agreed to help revise a test used to measure the writing skills of public school students nationwide.

The Iowa City-based testing company has been hired by the National Assessment Governing Board to redesign the writing assessment given to students in grades 4, 8 and 12, company officials say.

The writing test is one of several given annually as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation's Report Card. The congressionally mandated survey tests in reading, math, science and writing were first given in 1969 and designed to track and evaluate academic achievement in the nation's elementary and secondary schools.

Under terms of the 18-month, $1.4 million contract, ACT will seek advice from college educators, employers, military officials, focus groups and other resources to develop the framework for the new writing test. ACT researchers will also consider writing standards required in states, foreign countries and the writing samples now part of the college entrance exams offered by ACT and its competitor, SAT.

"We'll be trying to find out what kinds of writing are deemed important for a variety of uses" after graduation, says Cathy Welch, supervisor of ACT's development division. "One of the emphases for the next version of the test is how to assess if students are really ready for college, employment or [the] military, at least that's a new emphasis on the 12th-grade test. …

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