States and districts have expressed interest in administering the ACT to 10th-grade students. Given that the ACT was designed to be administered in the spring of 11th grade or fall of 12th grade, the appropriateness of this use should be evaluated. As such, the focus of this paper is to summarize empirical evidence evaluating the use of the ACT as a measure of college readiness for 10th graders.
In alignment with a Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (AERA, APA, & NCME, 2014), empirical evidence related to five sources of validity evidence (response processes, internal structure, content, relation to other variables, and consequences) are summarized. As compared to 11th-grade test administrations, the results indicate that when the ACT is administered to all 10th graders:
Additionally, the results indicate that:
Unlike other 10th grade tests, the ACT provides a college-reportable score and greater test security (relative to the PreACT test). Relative to 11th-grade ACT testing, the primary drawback of 10th-grade ACT testing is that students have less time for academic development and are less likely to have taken courses that can contribute to higher ACT scores.
Jeff M. Allen, PhD: Jeff Allen is a statistician and director in Validity and Efficacy Research. He specializes in longitudinal research of educational outcomes, student growth models, and validation of college readiness measures.
Krista Mattern, PhD: Krista Mattern is a senior director in Validity and Efficacy Research specializing in the validity and fairness of assessment scores as well as more general issues in higher education such as enrollment, persistence, and graduation.