Most kindergarteners when asked what they want to do when they grow up often have a hard time answering the question. However, ACT, the organization that administers the popular college entrance exam is seeking to change that. The organization is now preparing digital tools designed to test academic and behavioral skills and track career interests of children from kindergarten on up.
“It is designed to have measures that help the teachers daily, weekly in the classroom,” Jon Erickson, president of education at the Iowa-based ACT Inc. said to The Los Angeles Times. “It will help identify what student needs are as they’re progressing toward college.”
The new tools track a student’s progress, academic achievement and career interests from kindergarten through the tenth grade, and by combining traditional testing with teacher-led projects the program will generate a digital score.
Erickson explained that the goal of the multimillion-dollar project is to identify and address any gaps in the skills necessary for both college and the workforce. He also stated that the tools will be closely aligned to Common Core standards designed to maintain rigorous standards.
The program will be ready for launch by 2014, with some states already looking to implement the program. Kentucky has already expressed interest in adopting the program for its 1,200 schools.
Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday expressed his excitement for the project.
“The thing we are are interested in learning more about is how to measure certain types of workforce readiness skills — things like problem solving, teamwork — things that are often difficult to measure via standardized testing,” Holliday said to The Courier-Journal.
However, in spite of this enthusiasm, the proposed project has some critics wondering if this is just standardized testing gone awry. Meredith Carroll, a writer for the parenting site Babble, wrote in a blog post:
“I’m sure there is progress to be measured at that age, but is it really necessary? Do the schools really have the tools in place to help kids based on the testing results? Or are tests like this for kindergartners just another way to make some kids feel less than compared to their classmates because they have the ability to test well above all else?”
Myrdin Thompson, a parent of three children in Jefferson County Public Schools in Kentucky, echoed Carroll’s questions.
“On any given day, my daughter wants to be one of the following: a veterinarian, an artist, a nanny, a princess, a writer, a dancer and the president of the United States,” Thompson said to The Courier-Journal. “If a test says that she should be a scientist, her teachers might be persuaded to discourage her from her love of drawing and dance.”
In spite of these questions, Erickson believes that the new tools will be of great benefit to children.
“It will help students know exactly where they are and help provide insights on how to build on their strengths and address weaknesses,” Erickson said to The Courier-Journal.
Jillian Reed is a writer for 360 Education Solutions