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The ACT FAQ


Accountability and Testing of Students in Various Situations:

 

Policy document regarding student in special/unique situations: OEA has created a policy document that explains in practical terms what the state statutory requirement to assess all enrolled pupils means. This document is intended to simplify the task of determining whether pupils in any of a number of special situations must be tested. For reference purposes, the FAQ questions asking if certain students must be tested will continue to be listed here with a link to the policy document and any information that concerns the logistics of how to assess the student.

Q. Do I need to test students who are migrant or homeless?

A. See the policy document regarding student in special/unique situations.

Q. Do I need to test a student who was expelled from school for the duration of the testing window?

A. See the policy document regarding student in special/unique situations.

Q. Do I count in my enrollment and assess students who are in my school district under the school open-enrollment program?

A. See the policy document regarding student in special/unique situations.

Q. Is my school accountable for testing a student housed in a juvenile facility (adjudicated student)?

A. See the policy document regarding student in special/unique situations. For The ACT the test coordinator takes care of testing the student through the ACT offsite testing process.

Q. Do I need to test a homebound or hospitalized student?

A. See the policy document regarding student in special/unique situations. Test security needs to be carefully considered when dealing with homebound or hospitalized students. The ACT high school test coordinator takes care of this matter by seeking approval of any accommodation requests and following offsite testing procedures. Each of these situations is unique.

Homebound services differ from virtual learning provided during the pandemic in that homebound is a placement determined by an IEP team. A student with a disability who requires in-person specially designed instruction and related services in the home in order to make progress towards their IEP goals and in the general education curriculum, must receive in-person homebound services as part of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).

Q. When does a student qualify as having a “significant medical emergency”?

A. A significant medical emergency is a health impairment that renders the student incapable of participating in any academic activities, including state assessments, for the ACT test dates. Districts should maintain documentation of the circumstance within their district. The student will be excluded from test participation and achievement-based accountability calculations. See additional guidance on medical exemptions in the Significant Medical Emergency Form. Test coordinators must enter a not-tested code of "significant medical emergency" in the vendor portals.

Q. For students that will be completing the Dynamic Learning Maps test in place of the ACT with writing, what do we do with them in the portals?

A. Students who are taught with alternate standards must participate in the DLM assessments. Enter the "alternate assessment" not-tested code in the appropriate portal to indicate that the student took the DLM.

Q. Who is responsible for testing students who are placed in a corrections facility operated by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections?

A. See the policy document regarding student in special/unique situations.

Q. Who is responsible for testing students who are placed in a state mental health facility operated by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services?

A. See the policy document regarding student in special/unique situations. The district of residence should work with the facility to complete testing; however, it is not the facility’s responsibility to test the student. If the student is not tested, the student counts as a non-test participant for accountability purposes. For ACT the test coordinator takes care of testing the student through offsite testing process. 

Q. Who is responsible for testing a student with a disability who is placed in a Residential Care Center (RCC) when the RCC is a third party provider?

A. See the policy document regarding student in special/unique situations. The district of residence should work with the RCC to complete testing; however, it is not the RCC’s responsibility to test the student. If the student is not tested, the student counts as a non-test participant for accountability purposes. For ACT the test coordinator takes care of testing the student through the offsite testing process.

Q. Who is responsible for testing a student with a disability who is placed per IEP at Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Wisconsin School for the Deaf, Lakeland School of Walworth County, Syble Hopp Elementary, or Secondary School of Brown County?

A. See the policy document regarding student in special/unique situations. The district of residence should work with the above schools to complete testing at the specialized school the student is attending. If the student is not tested, the student counts as a non-test participant for reporting purposes.

Many students attending Lakeland School of Walworth County and Syble Hopp Elementary and Secondary School of Brown County are taught with alternate standards and will take the alternate assessment, Dynamic Learning Maps. These students will not be administered ACT. Students attending either of these facilities and who are taught with general education standards will be tested with ACT.

All facility requirements, test administration procedures, and security requirements must be met.

The ACT test coordinator takes care of testing the student through the offsite testing process. All facility requirements, test administration procedures, and security requirements must be met.

Q. Who is responsible for testing students who are attending a school outside of their school of residence but scores need to be reported back to the school of residence for accountability purposes? For instance: multi-district charter schools, local juvenile jails, CESA programs for behaviorally challenged students, etc.

A. See the policy document regarding student in special/unique situations. The district of residence should work with the school/program/facility of attendance to complete testing; however, the best interest of the student must be considered and collaboration between the school/program of attendance and the district of residence is essential. If the student is not tested, the student counts as a non-test participant for reporting purposes. For ACT, the test coordinator takes care of testing the student through the offsite testing process.

Q. Is our district responsible for testing private school students?

A. No. Your district may not test private school students. Private schools participating in the Choice Program are required to administer the State Assessments to students enrolled in the Choice Program.

Private schools have the opportunity to purchase the ACT directly from the vendor. For additional information regarding testing go to Private School Testing.

Q. Is a public school or district responsible for testing a homeschooled student if the parent requests that?

A. No. Public Schools do not have the authority to administer the ACT to home-schooled students, including those enrolled in their district for two or fewer classes per day.

Q. When is parent/guardian opt-out allowed?
A. When a parent or guardian requests that the student be excused from participating in the WSAS, this request must be honored at grades 4, 8, and 9-11, per Wis. Stats. 118.30(2)(b)3. This request may come at any time during the testing window. All students excused by parent opt-out are marked as “not tested” students in school and district reporting and accountability determinations. Enter the not-tested code "parent opt-out" in the portal.

NOTE: Testing is something in life everyone must do in some form or another, whether it be a college exam, CPR training, or a professional certification exam. The child's attitude and the attitude of those around the child will determine a great deal about how they may perform on the test that day. Encouraging a child to do their best to show their knowledge and skill will aid them in doing well and forming good testing habits as they grow into adults.

Q. How does a parent/guardian request an opt-out for their student?

A. A parent must submit a written request for student opt-out to the principal or the school board. Per Wis. Stats. 118.30(2)(b)3., if the student is in grades 4, 8, and 9-11 the request must be granted. However, if the student is not in the above mentioned grade levels, the decision to grant the request is at the discretion of the school board.

Q. Do I need to test a foreign exchange student?

A. Yes. You must test all students enrolled using the assessment that is required for the grade level in which the student is placed. If the student is not a full academic year student, the student counts in accountability determination only as a test participant and is not calculated into ELA and mathematics proficiency rates.

Q. Do I need to test a student who is out of state during the entire testing window?

A. No. The ACT cannot be administered out of state. If the student is still enrolled in the district/school, the student counts as a non-participant for reporting and accountability determinations.

Q. Do I need to test a student who is attending a school out of state but living in my district?

A. No. The student does not need to be included in the count of students enrolled in the district if the placement is out-of-state.

Q. Are we required to test new students who enroll during the testing dates / window?

A. The ACT test coordinator should choose a make-up testing date for those students and order test materials based on the window in which make-up testing will occur.

Q. What is DPI’s definition of “Full Academic Year” (FAY)?

A. An FAY student is one who has been continuously enrolled in a school or district from the 3rd Friday of September to the completion of testing, with no enrollment gaps of 30 days or more. For more information, contact Phil Cranley at DPI at (608) 266-9798.

Q. How is FAY applied to reporting and accountability?

A. FAY is applied for public reporting of assessment results and when using assessment results in accountability calculations including school and district report cards. A student's assessment results are only included in performance-based accountability calculations (i.e., priority area calculations in accountability report cards) for a school if he or she was enrolled in the school for the full academic year. District accountability report cards include students in achievement-based calculations who were enrolled in the district for the full academic year. Test participation calculations do not factor in FAY status because, while schools and districts are only held accountable for the performance of students enrolled for the full academic year, a student is expected to participate in the required statewide assessments regardless of how long they have been enrolled in the school or district.

Q. We have an 11th grade student in our district who is in an HSED program. Are we required to test that student on ACT?

A. Yes. Students remain enrolled in the local school district and the school district contracts for them to attend the technical college (or community based organization) to work on their HSED. The student should be participating in all relevant assessments.

Q. Should I test a student with a recent trauma?

A. Use your own judgment about whether it is appropriate to test a student who has suffered a recent trauma. If the student is not tested, be aware that the student will count as a non-test participant for accountability purposes.

Q. Who is responsible for testing students attending alternative schools or technical colleges?

A. See the policy document regarding student in special/unique situations. 

Q. How will participation affect our accountability (i.e., report cards) this year?
A. Federal Accountability (ESSA)

ESSA requires Academic Achievement calculations to be based upon the greater of 95% of students enrolled for the full academic year or the actual number of students tested. Hence, schools that have student groups with lower than a 95% test participation rate are penalized. Wisconsin’s ESSA system applies this requirement by adjusting the denominator of the points-based proficiency rate calculation to the 95% tested level for schools testing below the required 95% rate. For example, if a middle school serving students in grades 6-8 had 100 full academic year students, but only 90 of these students participated in state assessments, the schools points-based proficiency rate is calculated by dividing the number of points by 95 (minimum participation required by ESSA) rather than 90 (the actual number of students tested). This results in a lowered achievement score for that school.

State Accountability

DPI publishes school and district test participation on school and district report cards for informational purposes only. That is, test participation has no impact on report card scoring. This rule has been effective since the 2016-17 report cards. Please note that a minimum two years of 20 full academic year tested students are required to generate a report card score.

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English Learners

 
Q. What content areas are English learners (ELs) required to take under federal regulations?

A. ESEA requires that all students participate in statewide assessment to be used for accountability. Federal regulations provide some flexibility related to the assessment and accountability for recently arrived EL students only (See 34 CFR § 200.6 (b) (4)).

Districts will need to first determine if the student has recently arrived in the United States before making assessment and accountability decisions. Recently arrived refers to a student that has attended a U.S. school for less than 12 cumulative months. 

A recently arrived EL may be exempt from one required administration of the state’s English Language Arts assessment. If the student does not participate in the ELA assessment, he or she must participate in ACCESS for ELLS. Recently arrived students must participate in all other content areas, with or without accommodations. Students in a school or district for less than a full academic year (FAY) are counted for test participation only; their assessment results are not factored into school or district report cards.

Q. How are recently arrived EL students included in accountability calculations if they take the ELA exemption?

A. If the student does not participate in the ELA assessment, he or she must participate in ACCESS for ELLs®. Recently arrived students must participate in all other content areas, with or without accommodations. Students in district for less than a full academic year (FAY) are counted for test participation only; their assessment results are not factored into school or district report cards.

Q. What are the approved accommodations we can use for EL Students on the ACT assessment?

A. Please refer to the English Learner Supports for the ACT High School Assessments webpage.

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Students With Disabilities

 
Q. Are districts expected to test all students with disabilities?

A. Yes. State and federal law requires districts and schools to test all students, including students with disabilities. Students with disabilities may take the ACT assessment with accommodations or may take the Alternate Assessment (Dynamic Learning Maps) if the student qualifies.

Q. Who makes the decision about the participation of students with disabilities in ACT assessments or DLM?

A. Decisions regarding student participation in ACT assessments or DLM are the responsibility of the student’s Individual Education Program (IEP) team. If a student is not tested, the student counts as a non-participant for reporting and accountability purposes.

Q. How does the IEP team determine if the student should participate in the DLM?

A. The decision to participate in the DLM is made using the DLM Participation Checklist. Use of the checklist requires a thorough review of student-specific data to assess the student’s current educational performance relative to the academic performance standards for all students. More information about DLM.

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Grade Classification

 
Q. What do I need to do if a student is listed in one grade in test portal, but our district records indicate the student is in a different grade (due, for example, to a mid-year advancement)?

A. In Wisconsin, local school boards determine policy about grade level placement. Therefore, check with your district for guidance about when a student should be advanced to a new grade level, and test all students who are, according to district policy, enrolled in a tested grade (3-11). Please remember to update the student’s record in your local student information system (SIS) and transmit the data to DPI through WISEdata.

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Miscellaneous

 
Q. A child in my family will be taking the ACT during the spring statewide administration. Am I allowed to assume the role of test coordinator or proctor?

A. You should not serve as a test coordinator during the same administration as a relative who is testing. Test coordinators have access to secure test materials; therefore, you should delegate the responsibility to another qualified colleague. Test Coordinators and DACs must review and abide by all staff requirements and responsibilities outlined in ACT Test Coordinator Information Manual before assigning testing staff. A DAC with a relative testing in the state would still be able to fulfill their duties, as long as: (1) the DAC does not assist a school test coordinator with handling secure test materials and (2) the DAC is not in the same room where their relative is testing.

Q. Where can I find the ACT Wisconsin website?

A. The ACT Wisconsin State web page.

Q. How can I sign up for DPI’s ACT Program email and where are past updates archived?

A. The DPI ACT Program email is an informational resource from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction - Office of Educational Accountability. Information about PreACT Secure and the ACT with writing is included in the email as well as helpful resources, training opportunities, deadline reminders and quick links. The ACT email is sent to DACs, school test coordinators, and high school principals. For archived editions please visit the assessment correspondence web page.

Q. Can my school use ACT test window 3 if a student misses the makeup test date?

A. Yes. Schools may use the makeup and ACT test window 3 for students absent on the initial test day. A materials order must be place by the test coordinator. 

Q. What is the ACT off-site testing request process?

A. There is not an off-site testing request process. Test Coordinators need to ensure that the off-site locations chosen for testing meets ACT’s facility requirements. Please refer to the ACT Test Administration Manual for the requirements details and complete a Secure Storage and Transport of Test Materials form. In addition, test coordinators will complete a “Test Room Report” to indicate the off-site location of testing. This form is included with the other test administration forms that testing staff need to complete and return to ACT.

Q: Are districts allowed to administer ACT and PreACT Secure on the same day?

A: Yes, DPI does not prohibit testing multiple assessments on the same day. If a district considers testing ACT and PreACT Secure on the same testing day, DPI strongly suggests consulting with district and school technology coordinators to ensure each school has ample technology (i.e. computers, adequate bandwidth) to complete online testing successfully. Schools must also ensure that each assessment is being administered as outlined in the assessment administration manuals.

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Virtual School Testing

 
Q. What is the difference between a “single-district virtual school” and a “multi-district charter virtual school”?

A. Single-district virtual schools are based in only one district. These schools may have students attending under open enrollment from other districts as well as from their own district.

Virtual multi-district charter (MDC) schools are consortium charter schools where a district-authorized charter school partners with other school districts to provide instruction to the students from the partner districts. A version of the MDC is included in each partnering district.

  • The Resident/Partnering District is the district that is sending its own students to another district’s virtual MDC.
  • The Authorizing District is the district who enters into a contract with a governance board to create and oversee the virtual charter school. The authorizing district would also enter into contracts with one or more partnering districts to provide instruction to those districts’ virtual students.
  • The Consortium Districts refers to all of the districts, i.e., the authorizing and partnering districts, that are parties to the consortium agreement
Q. Who is responsible for testing students attending a single-district virtual school?

A. For ACT, single-district virtual schools are responsible for testing all students enrolled in grade 11. This may be done by making arrangements to test virtual school students together on the statewide test dates or by arranging to test the students with the rest of the district’s grade 11 students. Testing must adhere to all DPI and ACT testing policies.

Q. Who is responsible for testing students attending a virtual multi-district charter school?

A. Virtual multi-district charter (MDC) schools are consortium charter schools where a district-authorized charter school partners with other school districts to provide instruction to students from the partner districts as well as their own students. The virtual MDC school of the authorizing district is responsible for testing and must work with the partnering districts to ensure all students enrolled in the MDC are tested, unless otherwise specified in the Consortium Agreement / s. 66.0301 Contract.

For state accountability, the authorizing district of the virtual MDC school receives a school-level report card that includes all students enrolled in the MDC from all consortium districts.

The district report card for a partnering district includes all students in that district, i.e., it will include the students attending the MDC school from their district. The students from participating districts are included in their district’s report card.

For federal accountability, students attending a MDC are included in the test participation rate of their resident district.

Q. Is there an online testing option for students who are learning 100% virtually?

A. There is no remote (virtual) option for statewide assessments.

Q. Why is there no remote (virtual) testing option available?

A. At this time, our testing companies do not offer a remote assessment option. Proctored, on-site testing ensures standardized administration that includes equitable access to technology and optimal testing environments, test security, and validity.

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WISEdata​ and WISEdash

 
Q. When is the absolute deadline for getting student demographics updated WISEdata?

A. WISEdata can and should be kept up-to-date throughout the school year. The Office of Educational Accountability will populate testing portals based on information submitted through WISEdata. Watch the DAC Digest for specific dates when OEA will pull data to populate the testing portals.

Q. What is the difference between ACT graduates and ACT statewide data?

A. ACT produces profile reports for Wisconsin schools and districts for two different data sets. You can find results on both of these data sets in WISEdash for districts.

  • ACT Graduating Class data includes the most recent ACT score for each high school graduate. 
  • ACT Statewide Testing data includes only the test score for each student who took the test as a grade 11 student during the statewide administration.
Q. Where can I access data for my district, school, and students?

A. WISEdash for Districts is a secure platform that provides dashboards for district-wide use of student data including specific detail inquiry, topic-specific current and trend data, and advanced analysis dashboards to compare data and demographics over time.

Q. How do I get a WISEdash for Districts login?

A. Log into WISEhome with a personal WAMS ID or an approved district email account and request to have your agency's administrator grant you access to an application through the WISEsecure system.

Q. How do I navigate WISEdash for Districts?

A. Several learning resources are available including: WISEdash for Districts guides, videos, and other resources.

Q. Where can I access data about Wisconsin schools and districts?

A. WISEdash Public is a data portal that uses dashboards, or visual collections of graphs and tables, to provide multi-year education data about Wisconsin schools. Data on the portal are redacted and available by school, district, or state. Users can disaggregate data by student subgroups and make district or school side-by-side comparisons.

Q. Where can I find support in analyzing student assessment data?

A. The WISExplore group builds capacity with educators to engage in data inquiry processes and culturally responsive continuous improvement practices utilizing WISEdash portals and many other data sources. The Using Assessment Dashboards presentation created by the WISExplore team in collaboration with the Office of Educational Accountability, is a guide to interacting with various dashboards and useful tools to analyze assessment data.