Aspire to take the place of Plan tests


Alice Yu

Sophomores will undergo five hours of Aspire testing Tuesday as a result of ACT’s replacement of the Plan test with the Aspire, an exam that takes up almost twice as much time as the Plan.

“The test is really four hours and five minutes,” Director of Guidance Betsy Jones said. “But with a built-in break and the administration stuff, that’s about a half hour. We’re gonna really take slightly less than five hours.”

Concerned about how to keep her testing stamina up for all sections of the test, sophomore Helen Keithahn feels stressed but also understands the benefits of preparatory tests.

“I think it gets your endurance up for test taking definitely,” sophomore Helen Keithahn said. “You have to take four hours of tests, so that will get you used to having to take really long tests, so that’s pretty good.”

While the Aspire, like the Plan, will include sections covering science, reading, English, and math, a new writing portion will also be included. In addition to a new name and a news section, the Aspire will be computerized.

To ensure that every sophomore will have access to a computer for testing, administration has reserved all computer labs with the exception of the journalism lab and all the laptops. The media center will also be closed off to general students at 10:30 to accommodate Aspire testers.

The roots of these changes can be found in ACT’s transition to make testing consistent with the Common Core State Standards and Smarter Balanced Assessments.

According to, the goal of Common Core State Standards is to set clear expectations of what students should know and be able to do at each grade level in the subjects of math and English language arts. Smarter Balanced Assessments creates assessments that not only align with the Common Core State Standards, but also use the “precision and efficiency” of computer adaptive testing, according to

Supplying students with a three-digit composite score as well as their predicted ACT composite score, the Aspire aims to provide students as well as school districts information regarding the student’s “college and career readiness”, according to

“I think it’s a good test to take before the ACT to just see what the format is and everything,” junior Jessica Chapdelaine said. “I don’t think it’s necessarily on point when it says what score you’re going to get because it’s not always accurate, but it is a good kind of indicator of how you think you might do.”

Science teachers are already taking on a more proactive approach in preparing students for the ACT. Recently, they attended a district-wide meeting, discussing and learning how to incorporate ACT test-taking skills into lesson plans.

“We already started to teach our kids how to effectively and efficiently take the ACT science portion and doing some practice exams,” biology teacher April Sulze said. “But it’s not necessarily for the Aspire test, it’s just to help them with the ACT.”

While the Aspire aids the effort of preparing students for the ACT and also for their future, the five hours taken out of class time for testing forces teachers to rearrange their lesson plans to fit accordingly, which may result in an educational detour for some students.

“I’ve reworked my schedule for [our current] unit four times because of just different things,” Sulze said. “All of the science teachers try to stay on the same page and since the B-day basically is being taken up the entire time by this Aspire test, all the A day teachers get way ahead so we are trying to just modify our schedules…by adding some extra stuff for the kids to learn in there so we can all get back on the same schedule.”
By Alice Yu
Plan test logo used under Fair Use copyright laws.