80 Students Pilot ACT® Prep Course

Instructor appreciates opportunity to be involved, provide feedback

Students have 60 minutes to answer 60 questions on the ACT® Math test.

For some students, achieving this is easier said than done – let alone earning a 21 or higher composite score, which best prepares them for enrolling in college.

Thanks to a new ACT® Math prep course available to students in Summit County, tackling the ACT® Math test is now a bit more feasible.

Mona Kotran, instructional specialist at Akron Early College High School, first heard about the ACT® Math prep course during a Ready High School Network meeting with Summit Education Initiative (SEI).

“From day one, I’ve known the ACT® has been an important focus at our school,” says Kotran, one of three current staff members from the original staff when the school opened in 2006. “I wanted to be involved from the get-go.”

Dr. Matthew Deevers, senior research associate at SEI, needed someone to help develop the prep course but also to pilot the course once the team completed the structure. That’s when Kotran volunteered to pilot the course at Akron Early College High School.

In the meantime, Deevers worked with contractors to develop the course, which includes short video recordings of individuals completing the practice problems. Kotran and a group of students had the opportunity to watch the videos and provide feedback before they went live.

ACT math prep class students

Students from Mona Kotran’s ACT® prep course at Akron Early College High School work on assignments during the fall 2016 semester class.

“The beauty of piloting this course was that students could help make corrections and suggest changes as we worked through it together,” Kotran says. “We communicated to students that we were ironing out some mistakes; we asked them to be patient, and they were.”

Testing, Testing

In January 2016 Kotran began the pilot course – scheduled as an ACT® prep class – with 80 juniors. She implemented the first part of the course before spring semester began, then continued to deliver the remainder of the course throughout the semester, one lesson at a time.

Students taking the pilot class met with Kotran once a week until three weeks before taking the ACT® test in April 2016. During the course, Kotran made time to review other subjects, such as science, as well.

“This opened some opportunities for the students involved,” Kotran says. “They had completely forgotten some information from classes, so we reviewed some old concepts together.”

Based on the feedback Kotran received from students after the course ended, more time to review ACT® Math concepts and homework in detail would have been helpful. Although students hoped for more time in class to ask questions, Kotran made a point to review students’ homework for the course, which earned students either a “passed” or “failed” mark at the end of the semester.

Students also learned new, quicker methods to completing certain math problems, which better prepared them for the format of the test.

“I was satisfied about the number of students taking the pilot course,” Kotran says, “but we didn’t reach out goal. The average ACT® test score for students who took the pilot course in spring was 24.”

Looking ahead, Kotran is hopeful the ACT® Math prep course will be available to students throughout the entire Akron Public Schools district.

Leveling Up

When the fall 2016 semester began, Kotran kicked-off yet another ACT® Math prep course, this time for 89 juniors. While the format remains the same, Kotran has tweaked – and continues to tweak – certain aspects of the course to best meet the needs of students.act math prep class students in akron

“I pick and choose a few concepts to cover in my month-long class with seniors, too,” Kotran explains. “We’d like to begin targeting students who are likely to score between an 18 or 21 – not quite college-ready – to take the course and improve college enrollment and persistence rates.”

Content covered within the ACT® Math prep course is based on the Level UP Your ACT® Math Score book SEI wrote and published in summer 2016. SEI sells the book on Amazon.com for $24.99.

As Kotran says, “Even the current juniors’ algebra II teachers like Level UP better than the ACT® book they’re using in class; they say the one we’re using is helpful and well-organized.

SEI thanks Lumina™ Foundation for providing the funding to develop and pilot the ACT® Math prep course.