SYLACAUGA, Ala. – The school year is quickly coming to an end. Students and teachers are most likely already geared up for a summer of fun, but there is one last hurdle they will have to face before reaching the finish line…

Standardized testing.

More Specifically the ACT Aspire.

For those not familiar with the ACT Aspire, it is a standards-based test anchored by the ACT that is completed by all students in grades 3-8 and grade 10. The Aspire test is made up of five parts; English, reading, writing, mathematics and science. Schools and systems may test with computer-based assessments or paper-pencil assessments.

It is given to students to not only prepare students for the ACT, but also to gauge college and career readiness. The ACT Aspire website describes college and career readiness as a process, not a point in time, and says students must be monitored in early school years and the start of middle school so skill deficiencies can be identified and corrected.

“This test provides teachers and parents detailed information about student progress towards specific learning standards,” said Sylacauga City Schools system test coordinator Selena Felkins. “Results from testing provide valuable information to teachers and administrators to use in tailoring instruction, building schedules and utilizing resources to increase students growth.”

Overcoming deficiencies in the areas the test values early in life is very important according to the test’s website. It says fewer than 20% of 8th graders are on pace to be college and career ready by the time they enter high school, and 80% of 8th graders do not possess the skills to truly succeed in grades 9-12.

These statistics have given schools extra incentive to make sure students are ready, and SCS has worked to prepare students for these exams. Tutoring and remediation programs for students who under-performed in the past have been available to ensure that not only their test scores rise, but they also get on the path of college and career readiness. Throughout the school year, students practice applying knowledge across all subject areas as well as practice test taking strategies. At the elementary level, teachers spend time helping students understand what to expect during testing and familiarize students with the format and language of standardized tests.

“We want to do all we can to make sure our students are prepared and have every advantage to do their very best,” said Felkins.

Past test scores for SCS students have been promising. Felkins told SylacaugaNews.com her system’s schools have performed at or above state levels on previous assessments, but the goal is to increase student performance each year.

Aside from the work done in school, there are a few things students and parents can do outside of the classroom to prepare for a day full of tests. Here are some tips Felkins gave to ensure your child scores as high as possible on the upcoming exams:

  • Make sure your child gets a good night’s rest.
  • Make sure your child arrives to school on time.
  • Plan ahead to avoid conflicts on the morning of the test.
  • Have your child eat a nutritious breakfast.
  • Be positive and confident in the fact that you know your child will do his/her best.

The Aspire test is currently underway for SHS 10th grade students and will last until April 7. Tests for Pinecrest Elementary students span from April 11 to April 18, and Nichols-Lawson testing spans from April 11 to April 19.

SHS juniors will be administered the ACT exam on Wednesday, April 19.

Make-up tests are given within the April 3-21 window as needed.

Jeremy Law for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2017, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.