Why We (Focus on Learning Center) Should Teach YOUR ACT Classes
Mark Twain famously wrote, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” The same words could today be written about the ACT: despite all the buzz that colleges are becoming “test optional,” in actuality the ACT has assumed even greater importance. A student’s ACT scores still significantly affect college admission, entrance into competitive programs, college placement in math and English, and the amount of scholarship dollars earned. Some states, including Missouri, are now making the ACT a mandatory test for all juniors.
The importance of the ACT test has spawned an ever expanding “Test Prep Industry.” ACT prep programs and individual tutors offering assistance have sprouted up everywhere. Just about anybody can claim to be an “ACT coach.” A quick search on the web reveals the breadth of choices available. Students eager to improve their scores and parents anxious for their kids to earn maximum scholarship dollars are flocking to get expensive help, often without a clear understanding of what they are signing up for.
Despite all the money that is flowing into ACT prep, there is virtually no data about the effectiveness of the coaching that is offered. “Testimonials” and other such anecdotal evidence do little to reveal the effectiveness of a coach or a coaching/preparation class. What is needed (and should be demanded by parents and schools) is objective, rigorous data that compares the gains of students who prepare with the gains of those who do not. That last phase may not seem important, but comparing these two groups provides the only valid method to evaluate the effect of preparation: How much more do those who prepare, either with one-on-one tutoring or in a class, improve compare to their cohorts who just show-up?
This is the data we have collected and continue to collect at Focus on Learning. If you do a Google search for the Effects of Coaching on the ACT Scores you will find our studies listed, but little else. Although one point – or just a little higher than one point – may at first glance not seem like much, it represents the gain made by the average of an entire group of students who prepared compared to those who did not and is thus significant. This “one point” spread over all of the students – many of whom made much larger gains – translates into tens of thousands of dollars of scholarships and many educational opportunities.
We can raise your students’ scores: we have proven it and we have published the gains – our program, honed over 30 years, works. Our students raise their ACT scores. So, until someone else can math our results, shouldn’t we be teaching your ACT preparation classes? We come to your school. Also look for our web based ACT prep programs that will be available soon.
We also offer two workshops for your teachers: Teachers as ACT Coaches (TAC), where we share the strategies we have used successfully over the past thirty years and Teaching for ACT Success: Revised Missouri Learning Standards and the ACT—What’s a School to Do?(TFS) for classroom teachers. The TFS workshop provides materials and strategies for teachers to incorporate into their classroom curricula.
Contact us at www.FocusOnLearningCenter.com or call 573-875-5187 for more information. FOL is located at 200 Corporate Lake Drive, Columbia, MO 65203.
Gary Moss, Ph.D.
Ene-Kaja Chippendale, Ph.D.
(Dr. Moss is a researcher and test consultant for Focus on Learning, Inc., Columbia, MO. His coaching areas include math and science. Dr. Chippendale is the president of FOL and her coaching areas are English, reading, and writing. Drs. Moss and Chippendale have worked together over 30 years to develop and regularly update their ACT programs for both students and teachers.)