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The Holistic Framework as ACT’s DNA: How Research and Product Line Management Work Hand in Hand

ACT’s 2015 report Beyond Academics: A Holistic Framework for Enhancing Education and Workplace Success challenged current thinking around college and career readiness and student potential.

The introduction of the ACT® Holistic Framework™ just a few years ago underscored the importance of taking a holistic view of an individual—not only to better understand whether an individual is ready for the next step in life but, more importantly, to use that information to help guide students in taking that next step toward a meaningful and fulfilling career.

As ACT evolves from an assessment company into an organization focused on learning, measurement and navigation, the Holistic Framework has become more than just a framework; it has become the DNA of ACT.

The framework helped change who we are, what we do, and the very way we work.

One of the first steps we took in our evolution was to evaluate how our current product portfolio aligned to the Holistic Framework. For example, since the framework suggests social and emotional learning (SEL) skills are critical, do we have a solution that measures SEL skills for individuals at different stages in their lives? For elementary students? For workers? In this case, the answer was only a partial yes, so we documented the gaps that existed and then began searching for ways to effectively close them, to better serve our customers.

In fact, we went beyond that: We established “becoming holistic” as a corporate goal with associated metrics to keep us accountable and track our progress toward filling those gaps.

As we studied this situation, we quickly realized that filling the gaps would take us far too long if we tackled this problem on our own. So, we set out to find strategic partners, investments, and acquisitions that would help us fulfil our goal. Of course, we continue to focus on creating the right solutions to serve our customers through internal product development, but we also are growing a network of partners to help us develop new solutions more quickly.

We know we cannot tackle all the existing gaps at once. So how do we prioritize our focus? How do we decide which gaps to address first? Through research. ACT has always been a research-driven organization. We are using research to shed light on which gaps are most important for individual success based on scientific evidence while also factoring in market and customer needs. And external factors, such as changing market needs and emerging opportunities, also influence the decisions we are making to meet our goals and foster the evolution of our organization.

Through it all, the ACT Holistic Framework serves as a guidepost for our work and for our organization’s transformation.

Just as the Holistic Framework can help guide individuals toward reaching their goals, it is helping ACT reach its own goal of developing and offering the right solutions to improve outcomes and enable ACT to most effectively fulfil its mission: helping people achieve education and workplace success. The ACT Holistic Framework has truly become the DNA of ACT.

Learn more about the Holistic Framework by visiting

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About ACT

ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa, ACT is trusted as a leader in college and career readiness, providing high-quality assessments grounded in nearly 60 years of research. ACT offers a uniquely integrated set of solutions designed to provide personalized insights that help individuals succeed from elementary school through career.