Alternative College Admission Test Not Aligned with Common Core Enters Testing Stage

Published May 18, 2016

High school students seeking admission to institutions of higher learning have traditionally had to choose from a limited number of options for aptitude exams accepted on college applications.

Tests such as the SAT and ACT are aligned with Common Core, but as more states reject and replace these national curriculum standards, the need for alternative college testing has become clear.

‘Restore Educational Freedom’

The Vector Assessment of Readiness for College (Vector ARC) is being designed as an alternative college aptitude test that Vector ARC’s website is branding as “non-Common Core” and created to “restore educational freedom.”

Julie West, Vector ARC spokeswoman, and “a team of educators, professionals, and policy makers” developed the Vector ARC exam, and have labeled it as “the assessment their peers have been seeking.”

“Our mission is to preserve and restore academic freedom while providing students an equitable assessment,” West said. “ARC is not linked to any specific set of standards.”

Beta Testing

Test writers are currently recruiting participants for beta testing of the exam, the content of which West says reflects more traditional educational standards than Common Core.

“Classic literature and framing documents are featured, rather than more controversial Common Core or AP readings,” West said.

“Although beta testing to date has focused on homeschool students, we believe high-achieving students, socioeconomically disadvantaged students, those from private schools, and those in districts that have not fully implemented Common Core will all benefit from ARC,” West said.  

Seen as ‘Promising’ Alternative

David Anderson, the head of Asora Education, says Vector ARC could become a viable alternative to Common Core-aligned college entrance exams, but he says more research on the test is needed.

“The Vector ARC is promising, but is not in operation yet,” Anderson said. “It is in beta testing. Some kind of validation research will be needed to certify its value.”  

Anderson says something must be done to restore academic honesty to the education system, because Common Core is already undermining the higher-education system in addition to K–12 education.  

“Common Core is effectively dumbing-down these colleges,” Anderson said. “It’s an indirect effect of Common Core and is caused by the enormous pressure put on states to revise how they conduct remedial education in state-run colleges.

“If ACT continues to use some of these state-run colleges in its methodology for connecting grades in entry-level courses with the scores students obtained on the ACT tests, it will have a bad effect,” said Anderson.

Michael McGrady ([email protected]) writes from Colorado Springs, Colorado.