April 19: ACT Day at Des Moines Public Schools

actACT Day: it’s becoming an annual tradition at Des Moines Public Schools as the day when hundreds of high school juniors take – free of charge – the ACT college entrance exam. This year that day falls on Tuesday, April 19.

This is the ninth year DMPS has been offering the ACT exam to all juniors. Over the past four years, between 1,600 and 1,700 juniors take the exam on this day, approximately 90 percent of the class.

The benefits are becoming evident. Enrollment in Advanced Placement and other college preparatory courses has increased dramatically. Students who otherwise may not have considered college are learning they have what it takes. Colleges and universities open a dialogue with students, encouraging them to be college-ready and begin considering career options. The district’s graduation rate continues to increase. And students are given a free shot at a test that can have a direct and positive impact on their futures.

DMPS is the first school district in Iowa to provide every junior the opportunity to take a college entrance exam.

Iowa’s state universities currently require an ACT score as part of the admission process. For low income students, first generation college-goers and/or immigrant students, this requirement can create a barrier that may close the door to a college education. Providing the ACT to all juniors begins the application process early while the support of school counselors, teachers and administrators is easily accessed.

While not every student will go to college, every student must be adequately prepared for post-secondary education. No matter what career a student decides to pursue after high school, critical thinking skills, mathematical reasoning and higher levels of reading comprehension are the standards for the 21st century workforce.

Although some people are concerned about a short-term decline for Iowa in the ACT rankings when the pool of test-takers is expanded, that is more than offset by the improved quality of life for all Iowans that will result from students better prepared for their futures through post-secondary education opportunities.

Des Moines Public Schools is proud to have been first in making this opportunity available to all of our students.

NOTE: High school juniors report to school to take the ACT the morning of April 19; students in grades 9, 10 and 12 do not have classes that day. Students in grade 11 do not have classes on April 20. Both days are normal school days for all elementary and middle schools.

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