The Alabama Department of Education this week released statewide results of its Grades 3-8 assessment tests, broadly known as the ACT Aspire.
The Aspire tests, which were taken statewide for the first time last spring, replace the Alabama Reading and Math Test which had been used to measure student and school performance.
The Aspire offers several advantages. Devised by the well-known national testing company, ACT, the Aspire is more closely aligned with national performance measurements. It includes a benchmark scoring system designed to show whether a student is on track academically to graduate from high school ready for college. You can read more about the Aspire and Alabama’s new assessments from the A Plus Education Partnership. And here you can find the State Department of Education’s discussion of statewide Aspire results.
PARCA uses test data from the Aspire and other sources as well as available financial data to help school systems identify their strengths and the areas in need of improvement.
As this is the first year the state is using Aspire as a performance measure, the results set a baseline from which future improvement and growth can be measured. As expected though, the results establish a tougher, and likely more accurate, benchmark for academic proficiency. On the ARMT, the percentage of students scoring above proficient ranged between 68 and 93 percent, depending on the grade and subject tested. On the Aspire results, the highest percentage of proficiency could be found in 3rd grade math where just over half the students (52 percent) were deemed to have met or exceeded the proficiency level for that grade. On the other hand, only 29 percent of 8th graders scored at or above the readiness benchmark in math.