ACT remains 2016 state college entrance exam | SummitDaily.com

ACT remains 2016 state college entrance exam

Colorado's Department of Education confirmed last week that it received approval to administer the ACT to high school juniors this spring, clarifying the process after a December announcement that the state would transition to the SAT and PSAT exams, as recommended by an independent selection committee.

"We're very thankful that the testing vendors were willing to work with us to create a transition year for our 11th-grade students," said Elliot Asp, interim education commissioner, in a news release. "Our high school juniors can take the assessment they've been preparing for, and we will work with districts, educators and the College Board to create a smooth transition to the SAT in 2017."

The agreement will not change the selection committee's unanimous decision to award College Board, producer of the SAT and Advanced Placement Program, a five-year contract to administer the SAT and PSAT to Colorado's 10th- and 11th-grade students. This year's 10th-graders will still take the PSAT in preparation for the state's full transition to the SAT next spring.

"We support the decision to administer the PSAT 10 this spring and begin the administration of the statewide SAT administration next spring," Cyndie Schmeiser, chief of assessment for College Board, said in the release. "Given the timing of this decision, we believe it is in the best interest of students and educators."

The shift in the state's college entrance exam was a result of state legislation, House Bill 15-1323, passed last May, which, among other items, required the department to go through a competitive procurement process for both a college entrance and a new 10th-grade exam. In addition, the new 10th-grade component had to be aligned to both the Colorado Academic Standards and the college entrance exam.

The Department of Education issued a request for proposals for these exams in November of last year and received bids from two vendors, College Board and ACT. After review of the proposals, the 15-member selection committee from across Colorado chose to replace the ACT, provided to all high school juniors since 2001, with the SAT and PSAT as the designated exams.

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In its reasoning for switching to the SAT, the selection committee found the College Board exams to be better aligned to the Colorado Academic Standards, and that the test-maker provides the most test prep support and resources to students. ACT, meanwhile, is supportive of administering its exam in 2016.

"ACT is committed to supporting a 2016 statewide administration in Colorado compliant with state and federal law," said Paul Weeks, senior vice president of client relations for ACT, in the release. "We value our relationship with the state and look forward to continuing to provide consistency to Colorado students, parents and educators."

The Department of Education has notified district assessment coordinators that, pending contract negotiations, the ACT will be administered to 11th-graders on April 19. Districts will have the choice to administer the PSAT to 10th-graders on April 19 or 20th.

Both the ACT and SAT are still accepted at colleges and universities in Colorado and throughout the country, as well as for scholarship considerations.

Crandall starts as state education commissioner

Richard Crandall, the state's new commissioner of education, begins his tenure Tuesday, Jan. 19, following his official appointment during a special meeting by the Colorado Board of Education on Monday, Jan. 4.

The state board voted 7-0 in favor of hiring Crandall, 48, who was announced last December as the lone finalist for the role following a months-long national search, to replace Robert Hammond who retired last June. Elliott Asp, Hammond's former special assistant, had served as the interim commissioner, and state law required at least a two-week waiting period after initial announcement of a finalist before appointing the chosen party.

Crandall has had a lengthy tenure in public education. He most recently comes from Wyoming, appointed by the governor as head of the state's department of education in 2013. However, Wyoming's supreme court ultimately ruled that position unconstitutional.

Before that, Crandall was a state legislator in Arizona, where he served as chairman of the education committees in both the state Senate and House. He was an Arizona state representative from 2007-10 before becoming a state senator from 2011-13. He also served as a school board member and president of Arizona's largest school district, Mesa Public Schools.

Crandall received his bachelor's and master's degrees in accounting from Brigham Young University before obtaining a master's in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. He is also presently studying toward his doctorate in education from Northern Arizona University. In addition, the new commissioner is a licensed school nutrition specialist and certified public accountant.

Frisco teacher awarded grant

Emma Arnold, kindergarten teacher at Summit Cove Elementary, was selected to receive the 2016 Thelma Pett Grant from the Colorado International Reading Association (CCIRA).

Arnold began teaching in 2012 and has been trained as a Reading Recovery teacher, with experience working with English Language Learners. She and other grant winners will be recognized at the CCIRA annual conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the Denver Tech Center on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 6.

"I wanted to further my education in literacy and reading K-6," Arnold said in a news release, "and expand my knowledge of what more I can do for my students when it comes to reading."

The $1,000 grant will be used toward Arnold's pursuit of a master's degree in reading at Walden University, an accredited online school headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota that offers a compressed one-year program.