October 20, 2020
By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
Eighth-graders throughout Rutherford County will take the preACT test beginning next week.
The grade-appropriate test will provide students, parents and educators an ACT predictor score prior to transitioning from middle to high school.
Those scores identify current academic readiness for college and career, as well as help in determining skills a student can improve based on their performance. The results provide students with information to help them select high school courses, while identifying academic areas for improvement.
Barbara Powers, middle school coordinator for Rutherford County schools, said the assessment will allow eighth-grade educators to ask themselves, “Can I provide additional opportunities while they’re in middle school?”
Powers was previously a longtime middle school educator before moving to the district level.
“Another thing about preACT is that it’s the mind frame we need to get our children ready for as they are promoted to high school,” Powers said. “Typically, our middle school children don’t talk about the ACT test — that’s really a high school conversation — but by giving them the exposure to preACT, it begins the conversation.”
While not everyone is going to score a 30 or higher on the ACT, the information gleaned from the preACT can give students and educators the time to raise individual expectations. For example, they could certainly work to turn an 18 into a 21 or a 20 to a 23 or, perhaps, 24 to a 28 or a 28 to a 30.
The preACT will provide the guidance and, as Powers mentioned, “open up conversations.”
The middle schools in Rutherford County previously used ACT Aspire for past two years, which was a digital test.
This will be the first year with preACT, which mirrors the ACT in scoring and the fact that it is taken with paper and pencil. The testing window opens Oct. 27 and continues through Nov. 20.
Individual schools are currently working through scheduling dates and the logistics of administering the tests to all eighth-graders — traditional and distance learners — and will reach out to parents with those details and all pertinent test-taking information regarding dates and logistics.
Ultimately, the preACT scores work best when used in concert with the upcoming YouScience test scores this January. They are two separate measures of capabilities combined with interest and skills to find the right career pathway.
After taking the preACT, students and parents are encouraged to follow up with the ACT Academy — www.act.org/academy— after they receive results.