College Readiness Pilot Program
The Nationally Recognized College-Readiness Examination (NRCRE) Pilot Program was established through House Bill 2545 in the 2017 Fifty-third, First Regular Session. As a one-year pilot, the NRCRE allows participating Arizona school districts and charter schools to provide, free of charge, access to the ACT or SAT examination to all eleventh grade students during the 2017-2018 school year.
The State appropriation for this program of $235,000 was made available in July 2017 and the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education (ACPE) was named to administer the pilot program. In October 2017, Governor Ducey provided an additional $527,000 for this Pilot Program to support the goals of postsecondary attainment and workforce development.
Currently, only 42% of working adults in Arizona have earned a career credential, certificate or degree. The state's postsecondary attainment goal, Achieve60AZ, strives to ensure that 60% of working adults in Arizona have a certificate or college degree by 2030. By 2020, almost 70% of jobs will require some level of postsecondary education. Increasing the number of Arizonans who earn education beyond high school will lead to a more diverse, knowledgeable and innovative workforce that can compete nationally and globally.
A key focus area for reaching the 60% goal is to improve the K-12 pipeline to ensure that more students continue to postsecondary education. Providing access to college readiness examinations, as early as 11th grade, will allow school administrators to identify early those who are at risk of not successfully completing high school and advancing to post-high school enrollment. College readiness assessment data can also be used productively for the student to identify strengths that may lend themselves to future careers.
While participating high schools in the pilot program were permitted to choose SAT or ACT, a majority chose the ACT examination. Of the 81 high schools that applied and received funding, 60 elected the ACT and 21 chose SAT test. Approximately 79%, or 13,285 students, took the ACT test. This level of participation provides the state with a significant opportunity to partner with the Helios Education Foundation College Knowing & Going Initiative. A key strategy used in this initiative is the opportunity for high school juniors to take the ACT at no cost. In 2018, 27,355 juniors took the ACT test in 18 school districts (that were excluded from participating in the NRCRE pilot).
There are approximately 86,000 11th graders in public schools in the state. Between the two programs, 44,000 juniors took the ACT in the spring of 2018. This is statistically valid enough for the ACPE and Helios Education Foundation to jointly produce an outcomes-based report designed for policymakers to assess the value of a state-wide administration of a college readiness examination. The report is due on November 30, 2018 and will include a summary of key data points, including an explanation of the aggregate data, a comparison of results that differentiates by gender, socio-economic status and race.
In addition, Governor Ducey is also partnering with the Helios Education Foundation on the other College Knowing & Going strategies - student assistance in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), college applications, and an Education and Career Action Plan (ECAP). (Read More...)