Elementary, middle schools defy odds with high Aspire scores

Dr. Dee Fowler, Superintendent of Madison City Schools (CONTRIBUTED)
Dr. Dee Fowler, Superintendent of Madison City Schools (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Students in grades 3-8 of Madison City Schools far exceeded the national average in the first iteration of ACT Aspire testing.

“Many had warned that since the state of Alabama was going to a nationally-‘normed’ test that our scores would falter. Not so in Madison,” superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler said.

Aspire represents the national average by the 50th percentile. “I’m very pleased … that Madison City Schools students far exceeded the national average,” Fowler said.

Madison’s percentile scores showed third-graders in the 82nd percentile for reading and 76th percentile for math.

Other grades’ percentiles for reading and math, respectively, are fourth grade, 80 and 85; fifth grade, 80 and 82; sixth grade, 83 and 86; seventh grade, 81 and 82; and eighth grade, 82 and 84.

High expectations for high-level academics by parents, residents and school populations “make all the difference,” Fowler said.

Teachers and students in Madison’s seven elementary and two middle schools piloted Aspire during the 2013 spring semester as a replacement for the Alabama Reading and Math Test (AMRT).

Fowler compared Aspire for elementary and middle schools with the American College Test (ACT) for high schools. The ACT company develops Aspire, ACT, Explore for middle schools and Plan for high school sophomores.

In designing Aspire, the ACT company measures students’ learning over time, along with classroom assessments. Teachers can see a student’s progress toward specific learning standards and then can adjust instruction.

ACT Aspire is the first digital, longitudinal assessment system to fully connect student performance from elementary grades through high school. ‘Longitudinal assessment’ “means that the assessments track student performance consistently from elementary through graduation,” Madison City Schools Coordinator of Auxiliary Services Bob Lipinski said in a 2013 interview.

Each student receives an individual score sheet with a readiness score, which indicates a child’s preparedness for further education and career training. Currently, the state department is printing the score sheets, which Madison students’ parents eventually will receive.

For more information, visit act.org/products/k-12-act-aspire.

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