Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Role of the ACT

Intent: How do I open all the doors so my child could attend ANY school, take advantage of the highest educational opportunities and receive scholarships through an academic route since my children were not interested in putting in the effort to become a competitive musician, actor or athlete. 

Since the possibility of obtaining an associates degree is available,  I determined we would aim for that. The fact that the state of Utah also provides the New Century Scholarship is a bonus. 

How do I prepare my children to get the associates degree in high school?   First,  I see middle school as high school for my kids.  I don't believe in redundancy so my kids move forward not backward in their math, English and science. You can see a chart of possible ways to achieve the associates degree here.

Refusing to shut any doors and possibilities,  I researched the highest requirements and prepared my children to attend a closed enrollment school. This included the ACT. Some people are unaware of the truth of the ACT and the influence of this test.  Here's what I found in Utah:

Closed Enrollment:

U of U 
Minimum for admission: ACT 21-27 comp

Utah State University-
Transcript or GED
GPA default 3.5
Minimum for admission: ACT 17  comp
SAT 820
required for 24 years and below - no Act 25 years or older

weight placed on ACT 
average ACT  28 comp

Minimum for admission: ACT 20 or higher average 24 comp
SAT 613

Western Governors University- online education:
interesting pay by time not course or credits
Considers college experience CLEP, AP and work experience
This college focuses upon working adults not graduating seniors
College entrance exam with essay question online Test score no ACT score

Open enrollment Universities: 

Southern Utah
Minimum for admission: ACT 20
Admission index

Accuplacer for 20 years or older
ACT/SAT required no minimum score but determines placement

Weber State
ACT not mandatory used for placement
Transfer less than 30 credit hours

Dixie State
uses: ACT (cost approximately $50) /SAT/CPT
if no ACT the ACT residual required for scholarships  cost for test $100
Transfer less than 24 credits

Snow College
ACT required or ACT residual test 

Salt Lake Community College
ACT or Accuplacer used for placement

Applied Technology College Campuses

Link to other possibilities:

Helping my children see the big picture of what they need to know to prepare for a closed enrollment school, I allowed my kids to take the ACT early. My children's homeschooling experience did not include high stake testing. I wanted to expose them to what is expected,  remove any test anxiety and any other possible issues prior to exposing it on applications.  I don't teach to the test.  I just expose them to it. To make sure the score only came to me I used the homeschool identifying code of 969999.  

I allow them to take it in 8th grade (13 year old) as a game.  It effects nothing- not what I teach, where I teach or how their peers will look at them. It is merely a puzzle. Anything that comes of it is a bonus. ACT will allow a child to test as young as 13.  

Some parents have children who need access to more challenging courses earlier and need to be empowered to get what they really need for their child. I have learned there are places that allow children to be tested as young as 4th grade.  For example: Duke Tip provides this testing, camps and even recognition to children who are achieving in this manner.  Here is a list ACT recommends:

Allowing them to take the test early has provided some benefits. First, It has allowed me to demonstrate my children's capabilities to counselors or anyone who questions my intentions or my children's desires.  Since the schools or counselors are unfamiliar with my student, this is the only thing that speaks to them.  It is unbiased and nationally recognized.

Second,  the score allowed me to see that I really wasn't doing too badly in comparison to the public system altogether.  Since homeschooling was so new to me,  I was unsure of how my children compared. As the public system gets dumbed down farther and farther, more children will be able to succeed and look brighter and brighter if the parents are proactive in their child's education. 

Fortunately, in Utah there are ways to make sure your child can move forward rather than backward through dual enrollment, online schools, co operative learning groups, independent study and more. See What Are My Options? blogpost.  Unfortunately, the laws are primarily available for 9-12 grades through the public system. Charter schools are still struggling to do so due to funding. I would love to see more options readily available for 7-8th grade since this is crucial time to keeping their interest. 

Things are slowly changing to make all options available.   Sadly, the changes are coming far too late for my own children but the possibilities are coming for others.  If the parents will continue to be their student's champion, we will see public education become a marketplace of opportunities to learn not necessarily a babysitter.  

So…. What happens if you want to avoid the ACT all together and attend a closed enrollment school?  There are ways.  But the results may not be in the timing or as cost effective as most would prefer.  You can wait till you are 25 to go to Utah State University and then transfer.  You could go to a open enrollment school like Snow where they can use placement exams but unfortunately many of those placement exams are associated with ACT i.e.  the Compas, Accuplacer or PLAN.  The other issue at hand is scholarships.  At this time, I am unaware of any transfer scholarships to a closed enrollment school.  There appears to be scholarships options after the first year of attendance at the school but not until then.  There is also another possibility especially if you have money to spare- take the accuplacer or compas at your local community college and start there and skip the whole public school issue altogether.