November 2017

The ACT Enrollment Planners Conference is now the ACT Enrollment Management Summit

For 33 years, ACT has convened the Enrollment Planners Conference, a one of-a-kind professional development and networking event. Building on this experience, and recognizing that the role of enrollment managers is changing and now more challenging than ever, we are relaunching this conference as the ACT Enrollment Management Summit to better address the professional development needs of enrollment managers. The inaugural ACT Enrollment Management Summit will be held July 18–20, 2018 in Denver, Colorado at the Hyatt Regency Denver.

More event info is available here.

ESSA "Fifth Indicator" Analysis
September 18 was the final deadline for states to submit their school accountability plans to the U.S. Department of Education under the Every Student Succeeds Act. As of this writing, all but two states have done so (Alabama and South Carolina were granted extensions due to the recent hurricanes). So far, the Department has approved 14 of the 50 plans submitted.

A lot of attention has been paid to how states would use the fifth indicator, a measure of school quality and student success, which arguably offers states more latitude and flexibility than any of the other four. As part of its analyses of publicly available information on all 52 ESSA plans, Public Affairs' Policy unit recently itemized states' use of this indicator.

The vast majority of states are using one or more attendance measures—usually chronic absenteeism—to fulfill the indicator. Another commonly used type of measure is one related to readiness after high school—one that for obvious reasons is of particular interest to ACT. While not all of the states in this group have identified how they will measure post–high school readiness, a number of them plan to use a college and career readiness assessment such as the ACT test, or a work readiness assessment such as ACT WorkKeys and/or the ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate.

ACT Opens Access to the ACT Holistic Framework on a Collaborative Online Platform
Read the full press release here.

ACT CollegeReady Enables Colleges to Assess Incoming Students' Skills and Offer Individualized Learning

Read the full press release here.

ACT Counselor Newsletter

The latest version can be accessed here.

ACT Administrator Newsletter

The latest version can be accessed here.


New ACT Work Ready Communities Academy
A new ACT Work Ready Communities Academy starts November 14, 2017, in New Orleans. The group attending includes counties from Wisconsin, Mississippi and Tennessee. This will be the first of four academies over a one year period.

New Local Academy in Virginia
ACT Work Ready Communities will conduct an onsite academy for counties and cities in Virginia. The academy will follow the typical format but will be provided in a location selected by the attendees. By having an academy situated in a convenient location for attendees more counties and cities will join and more people can attend from each location.

Awards presented at the Workforce Summit
As counties reach set goals they are recognized as a Certified Work Ready Community. At that point they start on a new set of goals to maintain their Certified Work Ready Community Status. Each year these groups are recognized at presented with an award in honor of their achievement. This year there are 61 counties that became Certified and 16 counties that met their maintaining goals. Awards will be presented at a special luncheon during the ACT Workforce Summit.

For more information on the Workforce Summit click here.

New Analysis Reveals Top Rural Counties for Workforce Certificates
And a new definition of wealth could reveal a path forward for rural areas everywhere. Site Selection magazine found that from all 3,145 counties, parishes and boroughs 61 percent of counties fell into the 'rural' category. Through their research they were able to rank top states by combined rural and micropolitan National Career Readiness Certificates (NCRCs).

Click here to see the entire article.


Southwest District: The Call for Proposals is now open for the ACT Personalized Learning Summit here. This new ACT State Organizations regional event will be held on March 19-20, 2018 at the University of California Davis in the Greater Sacramento area. The conference theme is: A Holistic Approach to Access and Equity for All! All proposals will be reviewed by the conference planning committee and must be submitted no later than Friday, November 10, 2017. The registration website will open in the next few weeks.

Arkansas: The Arkansas ACT Council is now accepting proposals for the 2018 Arkansas ACT Summit here. The conference will be held on March 5, 2018 at Arkansas State University Beebe in Beebe, AR. The conference theme is, "Connecting for a Successful Arkansas!"

Louisiana: The Louisiana ACT Council is looking to build upon its successful "Plus One Meeting" in 2017 by launching the first Louisiana ACT Symposium on March 1, 2018. The Council is still determining the format of the event that will be held in Baton Rouge, but the Council is planning to have sessions that focus on PreACT, the ACT, and WorkKeys.

The Power of Data Visualization
Alan Shotts, Career Center Coordinator, Cody High School, Wyoming

Data visulaization can turn data from information into action. One of the key visualization techniques is to highlight what is important by adding reference lines and notations to a chart. The example below is a simple scatter plot of students GPA and ACT Composite scores and shows a general trend of higher GPA's to higher ACT scores. However there is not much about this chart to cause high school staff to make specific changes in what they teach or how they determine grades.

With the simple addition of two lines and a notation, this chart suddenly becomes a critical conversation about grading practices and what grades actually tell students and parents. The lines are the minimum requirements for a student to receive the state funded achievement scholarship in our state and this is an important financial benefit to our students and their parents.

Now the conversation about "outliers" becomes important concerning the message those students (and parents) may have received about progress toward College and Career Readiness.

Why does a student with a 30 ACT score have a GPA of 2.25? Why do two students with an ACT Score of 27 have GPA's of 1.75 and 3.75? Why do two students with a 3.75 GPA have ACT scores of 14 and 27? Why did two students with an ACT score of 14 have GPA's as different as 0.92 and 3.75?

Answers to these questions can lead to important conversations about what is graded and what grades indicate.


  • Alabama ACT State Organization Conference
    December 7, 2017
    Register here
  • Hawai`i ACT Success Workshops
    December 12-14, 2017
    Register here
  • Missouri ACT State Organization Conference
    January 8, 2018
    Register here
  • Arizona ACT State Organization Conference
    January 22, 2018
    Register here
  • Colorado College & Career Readiness Conference
    February 1, 2018
    Register here
  • Minnesota ACT State Organization Conference
    February 9, 2018
    Register here

Using the ACT Behavioral Performance Level Descriptors to Measure and Develop Socioemotional Learning Skills

The ACT Holistic Framework™ outlines key knowledge and skills that are critical for individuals to find success throughout education and the workplace. Although core academic skills have traditionally been the primary focus for educators, socioemotional learning (SEL) skills have recently been recognized as valuable and important indicators of success for students and workers.

Using subject matter experts from educational and workforce contexts, the ACT Behavioral Performance Level Descriptors (PLDs) were empirically developed to measure and provide diagnostic information about SEL skills across the education-through-career continuum. The PLDs specify effectiveness levels of SEL skills and provide a foundation for developing formative assessments and training programs to develop SEL skills.

Our findings show that teachers are able to successfully use the PLDs to differentiate the levels of effective SEL skills, indicating that the PLDs may be used by teachers, practitioners, and other raters to identify and diagnose SEL skills for individuals. Information from the PLDs can also be used by educators to measure and track the effectiveness of SEL developmental programs.

With the ACT Holistic Framework™ as a guide and the PLDs as tools to measure and track SEL skills, we can gain a better understanding of how academic knowledge and SEL skills are intertwined, which will lead to enhanced training and curriculum programs and, in turn, improved educational, work, and life outcomes for individuals.

To read the issue brief, click here.

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