How will my student score on the ACT? Parents can use estimator to find out

ST. GEORGE — Parents who would like an idea of how their middle-school or early high-school student will do on the ACT college-admissions test a few years from now are able to sneak a peek at their child’s probable future score.

Washington County School District officials recently posted the SAGE/ACT Estimator on the district’s website in hopes that parents will use the calculation tool to help gauge their students’ strengths and deficiencies as they relate to their post-secondary education plans. The district also produced a short explanatory “whiteboard” video, seen above this report.

Screen image taken from SAGE/ACT estimator video, courtesy of Washington County School District, St. George News | Click to enlarge

The estimator and video were shown to Washington County School District Board of Education members during the Jan. 9 school board meeting by Brad Ferguson, the district’s assessment and research director.

To use the estimator, parents and students must first know what scores the student received during the eighth grade administration of the Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE) test, a statewide computer-adaptive battery of tests first administered to Utah students in 2013.

For example, suppose a student took the SAGE test in eighth grade and received scores of 601 in math, 554 in English language arts and 868 in science. These three numbers all happen to be in the borderline area between “proficient” and “highly proficient” in SAGE’s ranking system. Inputting these figures into the estimator yields a predicted ACT test score of 25.

An ACT score of 25 would put the student around the 80th percentile, or within the top 20 percent of students taking the test nationwide. ACT is the most widely used standardized test in the United States, with more than two million students taking the test in 2017.

Utah mandates that all 11th-grade students take the ACT, but many college-bound students take the test more than once, hoping to achieve a score that will qualify them for admission to the institution of their choice, along with possible scholarships.

In 2016, the average ACT composite score in Utah was 20.2, slightly less than the national average of 20.8. Most Washington County high schools typically see schoolwide average scores between 20 and 21, with between two-thirds and three-quarters of the test takers receiving scores of 18 or higher.

A score of 30 puts a student in the 95th percentile and typically generates plenty of attention from colleges. A perfect ACT score, which is rare but not unheard of, is 36.

SAGE, first implemented in Utah five years ago, is slated to be phased out next year when the state switches to a different contractor. However, the replacement assessments are expected to be similar, and Ferguson said the estimator tool can be readily modified to accommodate the parameters of any future tests.

According to aggregate data posted on the Utah State Board of Education website, Washington County School District students scored higher than the state SAGE test averages in all three areas during the 2016-17 school year. That year, some 48 percent of Washington County students received a score in the proficient (or higher) range in language arts, 49 percent were proficient in math and 55 percent were proficient in science.

In comparison, the statewide proficiency averages for Utah that same year were 44 percent for language arts, 46 percent for math, and 48 percent for science, according to the website.

At last week’s board meeting, board member Laura Hesson and other board members suggested parents and school counselors could use the information to help plan course schedules, career pathways and possible remedial efforts in academic areas as needed.

“That’s the whole vision,” Ferguson said, while adding a cautionary reminder that the numbers generated by the site are merely estimates and are for informational purposes only.

“Things change and so do people,” Ferguson later told St. George News.  “That’s why we cautiously refer to it as an estimate.”

To access a student’s SAGE scores, parents of Washington County School District students will need to log in to their PowerSchool Unified Classroom account, click on the Quick Links on the left menu, click on Main Portal Page, scroll down the left menu to Test Scores, and then view the SAGE-scaled scores for 8th grade English Language Arts, Math, and Science.

Email: jrichards@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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