CERT: ACT Preparation


Carlie Clements, Staff Writer

This year Hardin County Schools began using the CERT (College Equipped Readiness Tool) program. 

During the beginning of 2013, ePrep (which Princeton University graduates Karl Schellscheidt and Eric Barnes founded) developed CERT, an online assessment product that provides administrators, teachers, parents, and students with the information they need to maximize career and college opportunities for students.

According to CERT’s website, the following are beneficial aspects of the program: 

  • Individual and group composite performance
  • Individual and group performance by subject area
  • Individual and group performance on three levels of the Career and College Readiness Standards
  • Individual and group performance on subject-specific content that is organized using language that is generally familiar to students and teachers

It also offers an online exam room that provides each student performance feedback and video answer explanations for each and every test question, along with an online Study Hall that recommends subject-matter and strategy video lessons based on each individual student’s performance.

The CERT system individualizes ACT preparation for each and every student. Based on practice ACT scores, CERT can determine what a student is in need of help with the most.

CERT breaks down each portion of the practice ACT test down to the individual question to provide help with all of the student’s struggle areas.

Students can also keep track of their score progression by using CERT.

Additionally, a student can set personal goals and view college readiness standards.

“It gives students the individual feedback to help you, at that level and it provides the resources,” assistant principal Dan Corley said.”In general, in a classroom, you’ve got thirty kids, you go over what general is going to help, so this puts the resources and everything at the students’ fingertips and at the teacher’s fingertips so that they can get that individualized personalized detail to what they’re doing.” 

Each portion of the practice test is broken down into skills a student is tested on. Every one of these skills or categories is labeled with either a red urgency sign, a gray neutral sign, or a green excellency sign.

The signs next to the skills indicate how well a student is doing in that category. 

By clicking on each category a student will be prompted with a video explaining the skill, a student can also access a video explaining each missed question within the section.

After studying with the use of the videos, a student can take quizzes that test the student’s knowledge of the information taught; after the fact, more videos will appear for any missed questions.

“I like the way it’s fit for individual students by showing them areas they need to improve on,” sophomore Martina Bunnell said.

Students favor the layout of the CERT website over other ACT study tactics because it is very personalized for every person’s needs.

CERT gives students an individualized way to prepare for the ACT efficiently.

Bunnell added, “I think this program could definitely be very beneficial to students studying for the ACT and like using it because I can practice anytime I want and I get feedback instantly.”

CERT simply gives you feedback that allows a student to quickly reflect on their skills and continue to improve their knowledge.

Some students do not feel the same way about the program, though.

Junior Kailey Probus said that “the videos are extremely easy to follow and can easily make you bored,” but she does admit that “some students will be able to use this program to improve.”

When it comes to the amount of time a student should be spending using the program, the administration believes that it should be varied by each student.

“I think it depends on the student and what the student needs to work on,” math teacher Samantha Dougherty said. “It is not as much about how much time, but how productive the practice and study time is.” 

Corley also added that time needed “depends on the student, depends on the student what their goals are, what they’re wanting.”

English teacher Brooke Jensen also said, “I feel the monitoring of their time spent using the program should be individualized and based on their performance.”

The use of the program amongst administration is as individualized as the program itself. CERT is still very new and its outcome has yet to be established.

“It has the potential, it depends on how it’s being used and how much buy-in there is from students. The problem is going to be,  it’s a new program, and we’re not really sure how effective it is. The jury’s still out, so I’m optimistic but I don’t know yet,” Corley said.

While still unsure about the outcome of the program staff still see its potential.

“I view the CERT program as a tool that, when paired with a planned, long-term instructional approach, it will hopefully help students and teachers address areas of needed improvement.  Doing so will hopefully transfer to class and test performance for skills tests that rely on literacy (including the ACT),” concluded Jensen.