The adoption of Common Core standards has brought many changes to schools and their curricula in recent years. One of the biggest changes concerns standardized testing. Though requirements vary, most states are replacing their old No Child Left Behind assessments with new tests that measure the types of learning now required by Common Core. The Aspire system, created by the makers of the ACT, is one of these new tests.
What Is the Aspire exam?
The new Aspire system offers a series of achievement tests for students in third through tenth grade. Five subjects are tested each year: English, reading, writing, math and science. The test is designed to show parents and educators any student weaknesses so they can be addressed early on, and the test seeks to provide insight on students’ critical thinking skills as well as their ability to understand complex texts and communicate clearly in writing.
To measure critical thinking, the Aspire test goes beyond traditional multiple choice questions. It requires students to evaluate reading passages and write essays explaining their reasoning on math and science questions. The English test also requires students to revise a poorly-written essay by applying their grammar and language skills. Though the test is also available on paper, the standard online version takes advantage of interactive items.
Students can practice answering sample test items online to get a feel for the Aspire exam.
Why Is Aspire test prep important?
In some states, the Aspire test is required.For example, Alabama has implemented Aspire statewide for grades three through eight, and Wisconsin requires the exam in ninth and tenth grade. Other states are adopting the test as well, and many schools may begin to use Aspire test results to make decisions on class placement. The test results will indicate which students need remediation and which may be ready for more challenging honors courses in middle and high school.
The Aspire test is also closely aligned to the ACT exam, and the Aspire scoring package sent to parents includes a prediction of career readiness and estimated future ACT scores based on Aspire test results. This means that even young learners can get a jump on preparing for college admissions by practicing the skills they’ll need for both the Aspire and ACT exams. If a weakness is noted in a student’s scores, it’s never too early to seek out a qualified tutor to help close any skill gaps indicated by the Aspire test.
Doing well on the Aspire test translates to better scores on the ACT. Several states (Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee and Wyoming) require the ACT in high school, and students with strong Aspire scores will be well prepared for their high school exams. The ACT is also an important college admissions exam for universities, in particular those in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain states, so students who do well on Aspire are on track to succeed in college and beyond.