The ACT is one of the most important college-ready indicators that we use for our students in Lenoir City. In Tennessee, we have the tremendous opportunity to provide a free retake to all public high school seniors who took the ACT for the first time as a junior.

In 2017, nearly 52,000 students took advantage of the ACT Retake and 40 percent increased their composite score. More importantly, an additional 2,333 students met or exceeded the required composite score of 21 to become eligible for the HOPE lottery scholarship, where students receive up to $3,500 per year for college. These statewide numbers alone are convincing enough to help all high school seniors see the value in the retake.

This year, the ACT Retake is particularly important because our students experienced some technical difficulties while taking the test online last year. Therefore, this retake opportunity gives Lenoir City High School seniors the chance to showcase their knowledge on a level-playing field to that of their peers across the state. I am confident that our students will display their mastery of the content by taking advantage of the retake.

It is vital that we are able to offer the retake free of charge for students. Many of our students only take advantage of this opportunity when it is offered by the high school due to financial and transportation restraints. Providing this opportunity to all seniors allows them to improve upon their initial score after engaging another year’s worth of learning without having financial or transportation barriers.

One way that we have worked to encourage every senior to participate in the free ACT retake is to provide signups for ACT Prep courses the first nine weeks of school. This class ends the week of the retake and more fully prepares students for the test.

We are also intentional about celebrating student success on the ACT. We recently created a 30 and Up club for those students who achieve a score of 30 or higher. Many of our seniors have taken the ACT multiple times and use the ACT retake as another chance to reach their goal of 30 or higher. With this high score on the ACT, the members of the 30 and Up club have an even greater chances of being accepted to their preferred college or university. For the students who achieve a perfect score of 36, we celebrate them by placing their name on a plaque in front of the school.

Parent engagement is key to getting students invested in the retake. We start communicating with parents about the importance of this opportunity in addition to providing clear, logistical messaging months ahead of the test day. The week before the exam, we send home a Skylert message that reminds students that in order to retake the ACT they must be at school on the big day. We also let parents know that this is the last opportunity for their child to retake the ACT free of charge. Every stakeholder knows when and why we are providing this opportunity to every Lenoir City High School senior.

The ACT Retake opportunity is crucial for our students to show their readiness for college. Districts and schools have two options for the ACT senior retake: October 16 and October 30. Learn more about the retake with the Tennessee Department of Education’s 2018 Implementation Guide.