In early 2018, Horizon Education began it's partnership with Yuma Union High School District after they released an RFP seeking practice assessments with ACT® exam-like items for the purpose of utilizing them as benchmark assessments for state level reporting throughout the school year. After winning the RFP, we also worked with the district to pilot multiple Horizon readiness courses preparing for the ACT® exam during the 2018-19 school year. The results were outstanding, and they’ve decided to expand the program to over 450 students to prepare for the 2020 Spring ACT®.
Superintendent Thompson implemented a three pronged strategy to get students and educators ready for the ACT®. Her first leadership move was to make sure students understood the importance of the test and have every Junior take an ACT®-like test before the high stakes exam at the end of year. The ACT®-like assessments used were psychometrically studied against the ACT® released exams to measure question validity and difficulty to ensure
student scores were accurate predictors of student success. The assessments were also statistically aligned to ACT® College and Career Readiness standards and question difficulty.
The benefit of giving students an ACT®-like assessment was two fold: Allow students to have a feel for the test and identify areas of strength and areas for improvement. Superintendent Thompson and team gave students individual reports from the assessment and shared with educators and families to collectively ensure students understood what was needed to be successful on the ACT®. Educators also worked throughout the year to help students increase their performance by reviewing test items, breaking down content from the student and teacher reports to maximize student learning.
For students in the after school opt in Horizon readiness course for the ACT® exam, they were given a textbook, instructional materials, three (3) unique practice assessments with ACT® exam-like items: a pre, middle and post test.
Teachers that taught the class were professionally developed on the materials of the course, content, assessments and data - so they could successfully facilitate learning in the support class. The course was held after school over the course of 6 weeks, giving students 15+ hours of Horizon readiness instruction.
Based on the performance data from each of the practice assessments, educators designed an individualized plan for student success on the College and Career Readiness exam, while empowering proactive discovery by students to champion their own success. The student reports that came from each test allowed educators to tailor and adapt the curriculum.
In addition to the support that was provided to students in the after school program, students in a College Prep Elective section of San Luis High School, were given the same level of support but the hours of instruction were extended for one academic school year. The pace was a bit slower that the after school program, given the number of days that teachers and students during both semesters. The support class was a blended mix of existing College Prep Elective curriculum and Horizon readiness instruction for the ACT®. The 100+ hours of instruction were seamlessly integrated into the scope and sequence of the existing course. Teachers reviewed their current syllabus and blended the content from the support class to maximize student outcomes.
Investment in the educators professional learning - those who taught the College Prep Elective course was key. Superintendent Thompson wanted to ensure that educators had an in depth understanding of the support program, assessments, curriculum and instructional materials. Additionally, educators were taught how to inventory students content knowledge and skills related to College and Career Readiness Standards based on the pre-assessment. The information gleaned from this assessment allowed educators to deeply and intimately understand the unique needs of every student. This attention to detail afforded educators to craft a clear entry point for their instructional and academic engagement with students and understand the standards that need to be taught.
Educators were given the opportunity to review data and analytics at the system level for coherence building. School and district leaders reviewed reports and analytics that rolled-up to the systems level and disaggregated as needed. This level of information assisted the inquiry process and addressed root cause[s], so that leaders apply the right solution - technical or adaptive, moving forward.
Based on the three levels of support, the analysis below outlines how students did based on the three levels of assistance they were given: Pre-test access, After school Support, Year long during the day College Prep class enrollment.
The outcomes are clear, students that were given the highest levels of support, on average had the highest level of growth from pretest to ACT® [4 points], than students that did not. Students that were enrolled in after school support program had on average an increase of 3.05 points from the pretest to the ACT®. Students that had access to the pretest on average increased their scores by 1.09 points.