Skip to content

ACT Newsroom & Blog

Hide All News & Blogs View All News & Blogs

ACT to Expand Student Outcomes Research with New Grant Award

ACT has been selected as a winner of the 2021 Amazon Web Services (AWS) Imagine Grant, which will support a project to examine the relationship between ACT test scores and postsecondary success.

This public grant opportunity is open to nonprofit organizations that are using technology to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. The $30,000 in funding will help ACT simplify the process of gathering and analyzing student outcomes data.

This simplification will increase our understanding of student success by making it easier to observe connections between ACT test scores and positive short- and long-term college outcomes. In addition, the project will increase evidence of how scores can provide important information to test-takers as well as higher education institutions.

"ACT is committed to the ongoing evaluation and documentation of the validity and fairness of test scores,” said Dianne Henderson, vice president of research at ACT. “We're excited to have this opportunity to collaborate with AWS to dig deeper into how test scores relate to positive college outcomes."

Because students, families, educators, and colleges use the test for different purposes along the education journey, a critical piece of demonstrating the test’s validity is to tie performance to college success, such as earning good grades, returning for the second year, and graduating in a timely manner. However, conducting this type of research is a challenging, labor-intensive, manual process.

The grant funding will help ACT overcome this challenge by using a cloud-based solution to automatically connect college outcomes data from states and individual colleges and universities to ACT test records on a large scale, with limited manual analysis. This will allow researchers to examine the relationship between ACT test scores – alone and in conjunction with high school grade point average – and college outcomes.

There is a massive pool of data from which to draw. Colleges and universities across the U.S. and around the world accept ACT scores for admission, course placement, and scholarship purposes, and 1.7 million seniors in the 2020 graduating class took the ACT test.

Better understanding how students fare throughout college will arm test-takers with more information as they set out on their higher education journey, while helping ACT realize its mission to help people achieve education and workplace success.