ON EDUCATING LARUE: LCHS offers alternative to ACT prep program

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By Ron Benningfield

 After several years using TestGear as an online prep for students preparing to take the ACT, LaRue County High School is going to an alternative program.

 “We didn’t feel as though students were utilizing TestGear as much as we had hoped and we believe part of the reason was that it was not as user friendly as we would have liked,” said Ruth Sorace, curriculum specialist for LaRue County high and middle schools.

Because the ACT, an indicator of college readiness, is included in Unbridled Learning assessment system accountability, schools want to prepare their students as well as possible for the test which is given yearly to all Kentucky juniors.

Beginning near the first of December, the high school will replace TestGear with ACTonlinePrep, a software program designed exclusively by ACT test development professionals. 

It includes practice tests with real ACT test questions, practice essays for the new optional ACT writing test with real-time scoring, a comprehensive content review for each of the ACT's four required tests—English, math, reading and science, and a diagnostic test and personalized Study Path.

 “The ACT online prep program is less complicated to use and students and teachers can use it anywhere they have Internet access,” Sorace said.

The school will use the program with 10th and 11th grade students during their Monday-through-Thursday 40-minute Academic Time.

 “During that time, some students are pulled for interventions in different subject areas, others have conferences, and still others can prepare for the ACT with the online program,” said Sorace. “In each case, we’re looking at each individual to determine where he is academically, how he got there and what the next steps will be.”

Data from 2012 shows the school is moving in the right direction. ACT scores in all content areas were the highest the school produced since the test that measures readiness for college was mandated for all Kentucky high school juniors in 2008.

The latest scores placed LCHS among the top 20 percent of high schools in the state. A district-wide goal is for the school to climb to the top 10 percent.

College-path students have another reason for scoring well on the ACT. 

“If students don’t make benchmark scores on the ACT, they must pay for and take developmental college courses that do not count toward their college degrees,” Sorace said. “With a three-hour course running into the hundreds of dollars, the potential savings is a big incentive to score well.”