Common Core Aligned: ACT Replacing Tests With “Aspire”

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Common Core aligned ACT and WorkKeys.  Here’s a quick refresher from that article on what WorkKeys is and how this is impacting NC:

WorkKeys is developed by ACT, the college admissions testing group.  WorkKeys is described like this on their site:

“ACT WorkKeys is a job skills assessment system that helps employers select, hire, train, develop, and retain a high-performance workforce. This series of tests measures foundational and soft skills and offers specialized assessments to target institutional needs.”

ACT also does assessments. Right now, ACT has a strong commitment to Common Core assessments. Be mindful that the ACT is run and controlled by those who created and support Common Core. In 2009, ACT was given $1,445,269 by the Bill Gates Foundation for the purpose “to develop and evaluate the impact of a web-based professional development model that will be used alongside a more traditional face-to-face model to fully implement the Rigor & Readiness initiative.”

How does WorkKeys impact North Carolina?
North Carolina is indeed a participant. Find your test site here.

North Carolina is also a Work Ready Community member.

Referring back to article one, Public Education as Workforce Training. Is WorkKeys in Your State?, Missouri Education Watchdog (MEW) has captured a radio show dealing with North Carolina and how WorkKeys is tied to STEM — or rather how WorkKeys is manipulating STEM depending on how you look at it.  The link to the interview of Mary Paramore, a WorkKeys profiler, is here.

According to the ACT site, there are four ways to find out what job is the right one (starting in 8th grade) in North Carolina: EXPLOREPLANWORKKEYSACT.

According to Wake County Public Schools, WorkKeys is described as:

WorkKeys is an ACT job skills assessment tool that measures mathematical reasoning, critical thinking, and problem-solving techniques in work-related situations. It also measures a student’s ability to find information in a graphic and his or her general reading comprehension. All high school seniors in North Carolina who complete four sequential Career and Technical Education courses now take the WorkKeys exam. Students who meet the ACT standards earn a Career Readiness Certificate.

Raise your hand if you’re starting to get the feeling WorkKeys is meant to separate students into two and four-year degree groups?

With me so far? Remember NC uses EXPLORE.
Here’s the latest news, emphasis added:

College Counselor: ACT Replaces Tests With Aspire

This spring the ACT administered for the last time EXPLORE (for 8th and 9th grade assessments) and PLAN (ACT’s version of PSAT for the 10th grade). Replacing them, the ACT launched Aspire, its brand new entry into the world of core curriculum assessment tests.

Aspire is a suite of tests for assessing Common Core performance across English, math, reading, science, and writing, addressing students from 3rd grade through to junior year.

An example of the Aspire English assessments can be found online. Each subject will have three types of assessments: summative, given at the end of the year as a final; formative, periodic assessments such as quizzes; and, interim, end-of-semester exams to determine performance. Aspire already launched the summative assessment in April; the interim and formative assessments will arrive this fall.

Getting Aspire produced, tested, and marketed is an enormous undertaking. Consequently, the ACT elected to undertake this project as a joint venture LLC with Pearson Publishing, the behemoth British publisher of the Economist, with extensive reach into educational markets across the United States.

OH gee, look… PEARSON again. Always LEarning.



About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips:
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