10-28-2008 Special School Board Meeting
Agenda Item #26


Title
Administration of the American College Test (ACT)

Discussion

A major initiative within Secondary Schools of National Prominence is the administration of the ACT as a census assessment for all 11th grade students, unless waived by the Individual Education Plan. Following extensive conversation with representatives from ACT, and contingent upon available funding, our intent was to implement the ACT as early as the 2008-09 school year.  The ACT was planned as a tool to provide definitive data to guide students in the development of a meaningful Senior Year Plan.  As a result, student course taking patterns for the Senior year would fill any gaps in student performance and enhance the student's preparation for postsecondary, career education or the workplace.  The test results may also be used by students to meet the admissions testing requirement of community colleges and 4-year colleges and universities. 

As the financial picture for this school year has not been favorable, the idea of administering a test at the cost of approximately $240,000 was not palatable due to severe budget reductions.  In effect, the School Board was informed that this test would not be administered in April, 2009, and no funds were budgeted for its implementation.  While plans remain in place for a future administration in 2010 and beyond, the staff and superintendent pursued other alternatives for funding.   At a conference in July 2008, with ACT and America's Choice, Dr. DiPatri and Ms. Blackburn approached ACT Executive Leadership about the possibility of an innovative partnership for Brevard to administer the ACT as a model for the State of Florida as it pursues new assessment practices to promote rigor and relevance in the secondary schools.  The ACT Executive Leadership reaffirmed their interest in working with Brevard Public Schools and informed us that they would pursue the idea of the partnership.  Following multiple conversations with the ACT Executive Leadership, they offered to administer the ACT in the spring of 2009 at a 50% cost reduction for all of our 5,153 eleventh grade students.  The usual cost for the full battery, including the writing assessment, is $46 per student.  At the reduced price of $23, the cost to administer the ACT to all 11th grade students is $118,519 in contrast to the full cost of $237,038.  Although this represents a significant reduction in cost and translates to a great benefit for our students, funding continues to be an obstacle. 

Since this is an innovative program that directly benefits our students and closely aligns itself with the state's enhanced graduation requirements, the Commissioner of Education was contacted by the superintendent to discuss possible financial assistance, and subsequently, we corresponded by letter (copy attached) with the Deputy Commissioner in the Division of Finance and Operations.  The Department of Education has agreed to provide Brevard with $66,516  in additional funding to support the ACT initiative through the College Readiness Grant and the college readiness initiative outlined in Senate Bill 1908.   The Legislature appropriated funds for additional college readiness testing and the funds were distributed equitably among the community colleges as the identified fiscal agent.  The funding supported a post secondary assessment for those 11th grade students who indicate an interest in postsecondary education and whose FCAT test scores indicate a need for additional preparation.  In partnership with and due to the generosity of Dr. Drake and the Brevard Community College, the allocated funds will support the implementation of the legislation and the SSNP initiative through the administration of the ACT for all 11th grade students.  As a result of the state support and the partnership with BCC, the cost to the district to fund the full administration of the ACT for all 11th grade students in 2009 is $52,000.

Additional funding options available to the district have been researched and we have determined that the $52,000 cost may be charged to instructional materials.   Our textbook budget is financially secure; the total balance in the state and non-state adopted materials accounts as of 10/13/08 is $4,907,700.  Based on all available information the use of instructional materials funding to provide the remaining funds ($52,000) necessary for the administration of the ACT for all 11th grade students in the spring of 2009 is recommended and appropriate.  The expenditure has been discussed with Linda Champion, Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Finance and Operations of the Department of Education and she has confirmed that the instructional materials funds may be used for this purpose. 

Since the administration of the ACT will utilize the instructional materials funds which cannot be used for any purpose other than textbooks and/or instructional materials, we believe for that reason that it is a prudent decision to use these funds in this manner.   In addition, it is important to note that of the BPS graduating seniors in 2008, 2,431 had an ACT score on record.  The cost to parents for this test taking was $111,826.  The ACT initiative of the School Board represents a significant cost savings to parents. 



Recommendation

Approve the expenditure of $52,000 from instructional materials to provide a census administration of the ACT for all 11th grade students in the spring of 2009.  This action supports the goals of the Secondary Schools of National Prominence initiative and capitalizes on a significant reduced cost opportunity.



Meeting Date(s)
Consent w/o Information - 10/28/2008

Authority for Action
General Powers and Duties of the Board

Involves Expenditure of Funds Directly in the Classroom
Yes

Source of Funding
Other Sources

FY
Amount
Budgeted
Fund
Cost Center
Project
Function
Object
Program
08-09$52,000NO10098100000205100521103

Contact
Brenda Blackburn, Assoc. Superintendent  X 300


Attachment:  Champion ACT Request.pdf