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RMS receives $1600 ACT Explore grant

By Staff
Kim West
Russellville Middle School students swarmed the school cafeteria Friday morning, but they weren't there to get an early sample of the school-made pork barbecue.
Instead, approximately 204 eighth graders spent two hours taking the American College Testing Explore exam at no charge thanks to a $1600 community service grant secured by state Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow (D-Red Bay).
The Explore program, which includes a 128-question test divided into 30-minute English, math, reading and science portions with a maximum score of 25, also recommends courses that the students should take in high school and career possibilities based on their responses to the exam questionnaire.
"The ACT Explore program is the first of three ACT programs designed to equip students and their parents by directly relating academics with career interests and goals," said Linda McAlister, guidance counselor at RMS. "Students are more directly involved with planning for their future as they work towards a high school diploma and beyond.
"The program also helps students realize how they will use subjects they are learning now and what they need to know after high school. This gives practical incentives for taking upper-level math, English and science classes."
McAlister said the program will help make next year's transition to high school easier for this year's eighth graders.
"We had orientation (Monday), and I gave them a background of the ACT. I asked them to start thinking about what they're going to do for college and start planning for high school," she said. "Mrs. (Donna) Goodwin is the high school counselor, and she and I are doing this program together. She will come over later this spring to help them register for high school.
"It's a really big transition for them, and sometimes ninth graders struggle so we want to give them as much information as possible."
ACT Explore is different from other testing programs because of the detailed feedback provided to students.
"This test is different because it has a career component and also provides students and their parents with suggestions for improvement (academically)," McAlister said. "My goal during orientation was to just let them know about the program, and they were just mesmerized because I think some of them got the idea that this will give them more control over their future, and it gives them a vehicle to find out what jobs they would be good at.
"I didn't have this program growing up, and I feel very good about their starting high school comfortable with what's going to be expected and having a little more confidence."

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