H.M. Tomlinson once wrote “we see things not as they are, but as we are.”
His insight captures the essence of working with middle school students. Their world is consumed by their efforts to be accepted by their peers not on building a foundation for future academic success or career choice. The dilemma, however, is that when begin to understand that present success is the greatest predictor of future success it is often too late. Planning for their future and daydreaming of the possibilities needs to start in middle school.
In an effort to help students make these connections and provide a platform for parents to initiate meaningful conversation all seventh and eight grade students in the PTS district took the ACT Explore test in October. Their results where shared with them during adviser class and with parents during scheduled meetings. You might be wondering how the ACT Explore helps make the connection between current achievement and future success as well as starting early teens down the path of career exploration.
The ACT Explore is divided into four one hour content-area tests comprising English, Mathematics, Reading and Science. Each test is scored on a scale of achievement from 1 to 25 along with a composite score combining the results of all four tests. Along with the focus on academics, the students take an interest inventory and self-assessment. This combination provides students and parents the roadmap to future success.
Each PTS middle student was provided a report with valuable information. The report compares their scores to all students nationally who took the ACT Explorer. This document provides a comparison to others from around the nation; providing our students a glimpse at their future competition for college entrance and the job market. The report is also a benchmark showing their current level for college readiness.
This indicates whether they are above, at, or below post-high school education requirements. Our focus is not just on current achievement data, but also giving students and parents a tool to increase academic weaknesses. The ACT Explorer offers specific suggestions for improvement in areas below expectations.
The self-assessment portion focused on high school curriculum plans. These courses are compared to the requirements for the Core-40, an academic plan for graduation.
Seven essential skills are reflected in the self-assessment and directly relate to future academic success. For example, the report shows a student’s reading score is below college readiness. The child should have indicated in the self-assessment he or she needs more support in the area of reading.
In short, the self-assessment should reflect accurate perception of current skills. This allows parents a vehicle to compare current achievement and student perception.
The student interest inventory is comprised of many questions to aligned likes and strengths reflecting possible careers. The goal is for students to understand their talents and interests so they can find a career that includes both. It is not necessary for students decide at middle school what they want to do with the rest of their life, but to start the process of thinking about possibilities.
We are excited about this initiative and the support it provides to our students and families. We are committed to communicating and supporting you and your child through this process. Please check the Fegely Middle School website or call the main office for more information regarding additional parent ACT Explore meetings. Our students’ future possibilities are endless and we look forward to our continued work together.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion.