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About the Data - ACT

Overview | Cautions | Using the Performance Dashboards | FAQ | Useful Links

Overview

The ACT® assesses students' academic readiness for college and is the capstone of several assessment products offered by ACT, Inc. The page focuses only on The ACT.  The exam tests five subject areas – English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and Writing. The Composite score is the whole number average of the subject area scores not including Writing. The Combined score (English/Writing) combines a student's performance on the English and the Writing test. DPI also calculates an English Language Arts score based on the English, Reading and Writing scores.

The highest possible score on the exam is 36 for the Composite score, the Combined score and each of the subject scores. Prior to 2015-16, the lowest possible score for Writing was 2 and the highest possible score was 12. The scores of each subject area are categorized as College Ready or Below College Ready based on benchmark values provided by the ACT. No benchmarks are provided for the Composite, Combined, and Writing scores.

Where to Find Data about The ACT
School Years  WISEdash   School District Performance Report   WINSS Historical Data Files 
Beginning with 2007-08 X X --
1995-96 through 2006-07 -- -- X

WISEdash is DPI's primary data analysis portal and contains the most current and most complete range of data about The ACT.

Results of The ACT are reported annually for all public schools and districts statewide as part of the School District Performance Report (SDPR). (ACT participation and performance are also included as part of Wisconsin's Accountability Report Cards; see About Wisconsin Accountability.)

Two Types of Reporting for ACT Results

ACT exam results in WISEdash are organized into two types of reporting:

  1. ACT Graduates - results for students that are expected to graduate from high school that year. For example, if a student took the ACT in 11th grade in 2013-14 and was expected to graduate in 2014-15 then their results will appear in the 2014-15 ACT graduating class results. These graduating class results are available from the 2007-08 school year on. More information about the ACT Graduating Class data can be found at: http://dpi.wi.gov/wisedash/about-data-act-graduates.
  2. ACT Statewide - results for students that took the exam as part of the Wisconsin statewide 11th grade ACT administration. These statewide results are available from the 2014-15 school year on. More information about the statewide ACT administration is available at https://dpi.wi.gov/assessment/act.

Beginning with the 2015-16 graduating class results, these two sets of ACT results will overlap. For example, a student’s 2014-15 Wisconsin statewide 11th grade ACT administration results will also be included in the 2015-16 ACT graduating class results.

ACT Statewide 11th Grade Administration Results

Beginning with the 2014-15 school year all 11th grade students in Wisconsin (except for approximately 1% of students with cognitive disabilities who are assessed with an alternate assessment - Dynamic Learning Maps, or DLM) are required to take the ACT plus Writing.

ACT statewide 11th grade administration data include results for the Composite, Combined, English Language Arts (ELA), English, Mathematics, Reading, Science and Writing. For the 2014-15 administration, the English Language Arts score was calculated by DPI by multiplying the Writing score by three, combining that score with the English and Reading scores, and then dividing that result by three. For the 2015-16 administration, ACT reported an ELA score which included the English, Reading and Writing scores. Students who do not receive scores for all three subject areas (English, Reading, Writing) will not receive an ELA score. These students will be identified as “Not Tested” for reporting and accountability purposes.  

ACT statewide 11th grade administration results are reported as scores for all sections and also reported as the performance categories Advanced, Proficient, Basic, Below Basic or No Test for ELA, Mathematics and Science. These performance categories are Wisconsin specific and are not available in other states or nationally. See http://dpi.wi.gov/assessment/act/data/proficiency for more information about performance categories.

The ACT Statewide dashboards are defaulted to show both ACT and Dynamic Learning Maps data. Users can filter by “Test Type” to view performance dashboard results for either assessment by itself. The average score dashboards only provide data for the ACT. The “No Test” category representing non tested students is included with the ACT Statewide dashboards. Students may not have been tested because they were opted out of testing by a parent, were absent on the test administration date, or for another reason.


Cautions

  1. For the 2014-15 school year, DPI calculated an ELA score which combined the English, Reading and Writing scores. For the 2015-16 school year, ACT changed the scoring range for the Writing section and calculated the ELA score using a different methodology than was used by DPI in 2014-15. Because of this, the 2015-16 average ELA score in Wisconsin is approximately 0.7 points lower than the 2014-15 average ELA score. This may have contributed to a lower percentage of students being classified as proficient or advanced during the 2015-16 school year.

  2. Note that no single test can tell us whether students have learned everything that is important for students to learn. Additional local evidence should be reviewed for a more complete picture of student learning.

  3. If, for any group, the percentage of students tested is low, users should not use the proficiency level percentages or the average scale score to reach conclusions about the performance of that group.

 


Using the Performance Dashboards to Improve Learning

Timely and meaningful assessment information about student performance allows:

  • teachers to target instruction to individual student needs,
  • students to better target their own efforts,
  • administrators to more fully understand what students know and are able to do, and to guide curriculum and professional development decisions, and
  • parents to understand what their child knows and is able to do in ELA, mathematics and science.

When used in combination with multiple measures of achievement, such as classroom observations and teacher-developed tests, the ACT provides information about the progress of groups of students as well as the effectiveness of educational programs. No single test can tell us whether students have learned everything that is important to learn.

The performance graphs allow users to compare the percentage of students who are performing at each performance level within a school, district or statewide. Comparing the Proficient and Advanced categories in each school or district provides one indicator of school and/or district success in a specific grade and prior grades up to the time of testing. Similarly, using the available grouping, users can compare the percentage of students in a specific demographic group who are performing at the Proficient or Advanced categories in each school within the district. If, for any group, the percentage of students tested is low, users should not use the proficiency level percentages to reach conclusions about the performance of that group.

The scale score graphs provide information about the distribution of average scale scores within and across student groups. By using the filters, educators can compare the average scale scores for student groups between schools. Wide score distributions or low scores provide evidence of wide achievement gaps and/or low achievement.

 


Frequently Asked Questions about ACT Statewide Data

  1. Is FAY (Full Academic Year) used in the ACT dashboards? If so, where can I find FAY and non-FAY?

    School level reporting is FAY in the School, District is FAY in the District, Statewide is combined FAY and non-FAY. See Glossary for the definition of FAY.

  2. Why is FAY used?

    Including only FAY students in district and school summaries provides one indicator of how successful a district or school community has been in meeting the academic needs of students in tested grades up to the time of testing. Students in grade 11 who have been enrolled for a FAY are students who were enrolled in the same district or school since the beginning of the school year.

  3. Why are results reported as a percent of students enrolled in tested grades rather than students tested?
    For federal accountability purposes, all students enrolled in tested grades are expected to participate in statewide exams. Reporting percentages based on enrollment during the testing window accounts for all FAY students in the school or district including students not tested. For schools and districts where all or nearly all students participate, reporting by total enrolled or total tested makes little or no difference in reporting. However, for schools with low participation rates, reporting the percentage based on "total tested" does not provide an accurate picture of overall achievement of these schools, so this approach is not used. Student groups with the lowest achievement levels typically have the highest percentages of students who do not take tests. Reporting based on "total tested" provides a disincentive to administer tests or makeup tests to students who are not expected to do well because their inclusion in testing may lower the results for the school.

  4. Why might ACT Statewide percents/averages/counts in the WISEdash Certified Data View be different from ACT Statewide percents/averages/counts in the WISEdash Current Data View?

    ACT Statewide data in the Certified and Current Data Views may not exactly match primarily due to differences in determining student demographic group associations, district/school assignments, and duplicate student identifiers.

    • Certified Data View. Student group associations (e.g. race/ethnicity etc.) are assigned based on a static snapshot of student attributes from the data warehouse taken at about the time of testing.  District/school assignments are based on the district/school accountable for each student’s education. 
    • Current Data View. Student group associations are based on various sources with the final source being each student's end-of-year state record for the school year of testing. Initial ACT reporting in the Current Data View occurs before end-of-year is available, so other sources are used temporarily. District/school is always the one that submitted the student's test book to the ACT vendor, regardless of whether a separate accountable district/school is also identified in the ACT vendor record. Issues with student identifiers may be discovered and resolved after official publication of ACT data, and the Current Data View reflects resolution of these issues so student counts can change at any point in time.

     


Useful Links

More About the Data

Data Tools and Reports

(All links below include results of The ACT.)