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ACT Pilot Project Study

July 10, 2017

Justine Yeo, a researcher and evaluator from the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) presented a session at the 2017 AQuESTT Conference to share the findings of the Nebraska ACT Pilot Project on Student College-Going Behavior. This study was conducted in an effort to increase college enrollment among Nebraska high school students. Nebraska Legislature funded the study which took place over a five-school-year period from 2011-12 to 2015-16. There were 66,645 11th graders from 13 participating public high schools required to take the ACT on a school day in the spring of 2012, 2013, and 2014. These students were also required to take the regular NeSA assessments in 11th grade. Results of the study were intended to help quantify the impact of administering the ACT to all 11th graders in the state on college-going. It was also their hope it would inform related policy and decision making. Statistical research on the project was conducted by Nebraska’s Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education (CCPE) which has been underway since the fall of 2012 and is presently ongoing. The two major goals: 1) To determine the relationship between ACT and NeSA assessment scores using a correlational analyses, and 2) To determine the change in college-going rates resulting from the administration of the ACT to all 11th graders in Nebraska public high schools using trend analyses.

The main goal of this study was to analyze the impact of universal administration of the ACT on college-going. This would have great implications as other studies have found that taking the ACT helps high school students make better decisions about colleges (shifts from two- to four-year colleges and part- to full-time) (Klasik, 2013) as well as go to college in general (Hyman, 2016). Thus, the core outcome of this study was to determine whether the public high school student goes on to college or not.

The results of the study revealed that administering the ACT to all 11th graders had no significant, or even noticeable, effect on the overall college-going rate of the Pilot schools. It also found little to no changes in college-going rates observed for the ACT Pilot student groups defined by gender, race/ethnicity, and household income. This may lead to the conclusion that administering would yield no effect on the overall college-going rate among all Nebraska public high school students.

NDE’s Data, Research and Evaluation Department will continue their research as they analyze statewide ACT administration, student attendance and the Nebraska Education Profile. It will be important for us to keep our districts informed in order for them to continue striving toward educational excellence.

If you are interested in more specific details of the study visit: https://www.education.ne.gov/research/PDF/ACT%20Pilot%20Project%20Study%20FINAL.pd

-by Dallas Lewandowski, Teaching and Learning Coordinator