Friendly challenge with education professor aims to raise awareness
Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass will take the ACT college entrance exam for the first time since high school on Monday, April 16, with Scott McLeod, an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky.
Glass, McLeod and a small group of students will take the exam at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines starting at 8 a.m. The nearly four-hour testing session will be proctored by an official from ACT in Iowa City.
The event is the culmination of a friendly debate between Glass and McLeod, a former Iowa State University professor who lives in Ames, about the role of standardized tests in preparing students for college and careers.
"We're taking this test for fun, but the discussion around college- and career-readiness is real," Glass said.
Education legislation introduced this year by the Branstad administration includes a college entrance exam for all 11th grade students as part of the state's suite of assessments. Sixty-one percent of graduating seniors in Iowa's Class of 2011 took the ACT.
"If our goal is to have a world-class education system, we must set the right expectations for college readiness and then follow through with a college entrance exam as an important measure," Glass said.
McLeod, who questions whether standardized assessments gauge the appropriate knowledge and skills, said his goal is to get an up-close look at the ACT.
"It's important for those advocating around policies and reforms to understand as best we can the assessments we're asking our students to take," McLeod said. "For me, it's worth diving in to see whether this is the type of assessment we should be asking our students to take to be college-ready."
ACT officials describe the testing session as unofficial, using test forms that are "retired," or out of cycle. The tests will be scored on Monday.
Glass and McLeod, who each have doctoral degrees, said they will prepare for the exam.
PLEASE NOTE: ACT requires testing sessions to be closed. Director Glass and Professor McLeod will be available for interviews with the media before and after the test, which will begin at 8 a.m. and will conclude about noon. Members of the media should check in at Roosevelt High School's front office.