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ACT’s Transformation has its North Star: The ACT Holistic Framework

“The North Star shines with a humble brightness that belies its navigational importance.”
- Fraser Cain, Universe Today

ACT’s vision is to help more people learn, measure their progress and improve their navigation through life’s transitions.

That’s an ambitious goal for any organization, but certainly ACT has the advantage of building on nearly 60 years of research and assessment expertise to pursue a transformation to achieve that goal.

We are fortunate to chart our transformation course by using the ACT® Holistic Framework® , a guiding North Star, in our decisions about ACT’s future.

At its core, the framework is a deep and broad survey of what individuals need to know and be able (and willing) to do to achieve education and work success along the kindergarten-to-career continuum. The ACT Holistic Framework serves as an ideal North Star for our transformation. As we remain true to our mission of helping people achieve education and workplace success, the framework guides us in the opportunities we pursue in our journey to become a learning, measurement, and navigation organization.


In developing the ACT Holistic Framework, ACT’s research and development teams first established what is important to learn. They then conducted their analyses with an eye towards laying out how and why individuals can learn, as well as when that learning could best take place.

As a result, ACT score reports will provide test-takers with feedback that goes beyond a “single direction”—and certainly well beyond the days when traditional results offered feedback such as: “needs improvement.”

ACT can embed diagnostic information into assessment score reports that, in some cases, contain links to curated resources that help remediate measured weaknesses. This opens the door to providing personalized recommendations for improvement, such as ACT® Academy™ and ACT® CollegeReady™, and intentionally positions ACT to move into formative and adaptive learning solutions.


ACT was born from a revolution in standardized testing, and we will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of this important milestone this November. We are now in the midst of disrupting the industry again by illuminating the intersection of learning, measurement, and navigation.

Within the area of measurement, ACT is extending its psychometric expertise into new and improved ways of assessing achievement and providing real-time, actionable feedback. What we measure, as guided by the ACT Holistic Framework, will expand into cognitive capabilities, such as critical and creative thinking, and noncognitive domains, such as resilience, grit, and teamwork—skills that are essential to success in today’s schools and the workforce.

If having more precise and timely guidance on how improving skills in certain areas would make the difference in whether or not a student pursues their aspirations, wouldn’t it make sense to get clarity on that as early as possible?

The ACT Holistic Framework supports this kind of evaluation of an individual’s learning progress. And, as the saying goes, what gets measured matters most. ACT’s focus on learning and navigation builds on that maxim.


What are the best courses to take for a rewarding career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)?

What should an eighth-grader consider when choosing courses for their freshman year of high school?

What kind of credential should a returning veteran obtain to reenter the job market?

Providing answers to questions such as these is why ACT undertook the development of the ACT Holistic Framework in the first place—to broaden the impact of research-based insights over time. Only now ACT is poised to provide them earlier and more often, when they matter most.

Education and career navigation is all about how you achieve your goals. At the heart of the ACT Holistic Framework, the focus is on the critical transitions in the school-to-work journey.

ACT’s focus is on helping students, teachers, counselors, job seekers, and employers with comprehensive navigation tools and resources to help make strategic decisions in pursuit of their goals as they make their way from kindergarten to career.

Our Path Ahead

As ACT focuses on becoming a learning, measurement, and navigation company, ACT is using the ACT Holistic Framework to guide its transformation path.

Clearly, it serves as ACT’s North Star for organizational development and has become part of our DNA for innovation and creating new solutions.

Interested in this blog? Read more.

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About ACT

ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Grounded in 60 years of research, ACT is a trusted leader in college and career readiness solutions. Each year, ACT serves millions of students, job seekers, schools, government agencies and employers in the US and around the world with learning resources, assessments, research and credentials designed to help them succeed from elementary school through career.