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30,000 Arizona High School Juniors Taking ACT Today

Author: Michelle Boehm, Analytics and Evaluation Director

April 2, 2019

On Tuesday, April 2nd, approximately 30,000 juniors from 18 school districts across Arizona will sit to take the ACT exam as part of Helios’ College Knowing & Going initiative. 

Beginning in 2009, College Knowing & Going began as the District Choice State Testing (DCST) initiative in which the ACT was provided to all juniors in participating school districts at no cost to the student. In 2015, DCST evolved into College Knowing & Going, a 5.1 million dollar five-year initiative that combined no-cost ACT testing with college-going student supports. With intermediary assistance, students were directly supported in activities such as completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), completing college applications, and creating an Education and Career Action Plan (ECAP).  The number of districts participating in these initiatives grew from eight in 2009 to 18 in 2019. As of this spring, around 230,000 juniors, many from low-income and/or minority backgrounds, will have taken the ACT as part of Helios’ DCST or College Knowing & Going initiative. 

Why is the ACT so important?

Taking the ACT is critical in gaining acceptance into many postsecondary institutions. ACT scores may also be used by some institutions in determining eligibility for scholarship aid, which may play a crucial role in increasing enrollment among students from low-income families. 

Providing access to the ACT is also key in informing postsecondary planning. Since the ACT is a curriculum-based measure of college readiness, defined as the level of achievement a student needs to enroll and succeed in first-year college courses, it can help aid students in planning and preparing for postsecondary plans. For individual students and their families, the test results may identify an aptitude for postsecondary work that otherwise would go unnoticed. Additionally, the results may serve as an impetus for students who have not yet achieved college readiness to use their senior year to gain the skills they need. Finally, simply taking a college admissions test may encourage students who otherwise would be unlikely to consider college to rethink their post-high school options, particularly among low-income students who may see the cost of college as a barrier.

ACT performance data can be empowering at the individual, district, and state level. As a result of the College Knowing & Going, for example, school administrators have gained a more complete snapshot of the college-readiness of their students. With the ACT administered district-wide, school personnel are empowered to use learnings to more effectively implement a college-going culture within high schools.  

Participating districts in Helios’ College Knowing & Going initiative include the following:

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