University study says ACT prep is not effective

CHICAGO A study by the University of Chicago has found the use of classroom time to drill students for the ACT exam does more harm than good.

The study, conducted by the Consortium on Chicago School Research, determined that such classroom time should be focused on strengthening longer-term learning in subjects that are on the test.

University researchers analyzed test results and surveyed and interviewed Chicago public high school teachers and high school juniors in 2005 and 2007.

Elaine Allensworth, the report’s lead author, says researchers found that ACT scores were slightly lower in schools where teachers spent at least 40 percent of their time drilling students than in schools where teachers spent less than 20 percent of their class time on similar preparation.

Because of the emphasis on preparing for the test, more than eight of 10 students questioned for the study, to be released Tuesday, believed scores were primarily determined by test-taking skills. Research said it was a misconception widely shared by teachers.

Chicago Public Schools chief Arne Duncan said the report’s findings are similar to what the district found when it launched a plan two years ago to transform its high schools. He noted the district has stepped up teaching in the core subjects of English, math and science.  (AP)


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