Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass took the ACT college entrance exam with Scott McLeod, an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky.
Glass said the experience reinforced the rigor of the ACT, which he described as challenging.
“The ACT is an in-depth assessment that definitely tested my abilities and required me to tap into higher-level thinking rather than regurgitate facts,” Glass said. “This was a challenging assessment.”
Glass said he was surprised by the pressure of the time limits and the difficulty of the science portion of the assessment.
“In many cases, you have to grapple with very complex information in scientific areas, such as geology and chemistry, and very quickly make inferences and draw possible results from experiments,” he said.
Glass, McLeod and a small group of students took the exam in a classroom at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines. The nearly four-hour testing session was proctored and scored by officials from ACT in Iowa City.
Glass finished in the 88th percentile with a composite score of 27 out of a possible 36. McLeod finished in the 99th percentile, with a composite score of 34.
Iowa’s average statewide composite score for students in the Class of 2011 was 22.3. The national average was 21.1.
“I express my sincere appreciation to Dr. McLeod for taking this assessment with me for fun, and I applaud his impressive results,” Glass said.
Glass added: “I knew Dr. McLeod was smart, but 99th percentile is nearly off the charts!”
Monday’s unofficial testing session was the culmination of a friendly debate between Glass and McLeod, a former Iowa State University professor who lives in Ames, about the role of standardized tests in preparing students for college and careers.
Education legislation introduced this year by the Branstad administration includes a college entrance exam for all 11th grade students as part of the state’s suite of assessments. Sixty-one percent of graduating seniors in Iowa’s Class of 2011 took the ACT.
“This was a fun event, but it also reinforced my belief that we must set the right expectations for college readiness and then follow through with a college entrance exam as an important measure,” Glass said.
Glass last took the ACT as a high school junior in 1989; McLeod took the SAT in 1985.
Glass and McLeod plan to team up to write a blog piece about their shared ACT experience, including what they learned from it and how that learning may influence Iowa’s policy decisions in the future.