The ACT will soon offer special accommodations for students still learning the English language.
Currently there are no special accommodations for English language learners who want to take the ACT. That can be a problem, since many colleges and universities require applicants to take the test for admission. But starting next fall, the ACT will allow English language learners extra time, a bilingual glossary, a special test-taking area and, for some students, instructions in their native language.
Officials with the ACT say they hope more English learners will be able to take the test, and that scores will more accurately reflect what students have learned in the classroom. English language learners have some of the lowest ACT scores of any student subgroup. Last year in North Carolina, just seven percent of English language learners who took the ACT scored high enough to be admitted to a UNC-system school.
Tammy Howard, who oversees testing for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, said the new accommodations may help boost those scores.
"I don't necessarily think that the accommodations is the only factor," Howard said. "However, I do think that it is a step in the right direction."
Howard notes that North Carolina already allows several of same accommodations for English language learners taking their state end-of-grade and end-of-course exams.