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New Salem - October 12, 2005

Counselor's Corner

By Dr. Gaylynn Becker
National Certified Career Counselor
New Salem & Hebron High Schools

PLAN, PSAT/NMSQT, and North Dakota State Assessment

This week sophomores will take the PLAN test. The PLAN is a sophomore version of the ACT. The components of PLAN include an:
1. English Test (50 items)
2. Mathematics Test (40 items)
3. Reading Test (25 items)
4. Science Test (30 items).
The tests cover skills that are important for success in both high school and college. The more mathematics, English, and science courses a student takes and the better the student does in these courses, the higher students tend to score on the PLAN, the ACT, and the North Dakota State Assessments. The PLAN also contains the UNIACT Interest Inventory that assists students in exploring relevant career options - if students so choose.

Within 6 to 8 weeks we should receive the PLAN results. The range of scores on the PLAN is from a 1-32. The range on the ACT is from a 1-36. The reason a student cannot score higher than a 32 is due to the fact that some of the most difficult ACT items are not on this test as the students assessed are sophomores. The PLAN will better prepare our students for the ACT by providing them with an experience with taking this assessment. In addition, the results will also indicate areas for further study prior to taking the ACT.

When we receive the results, I will interpret the PLAN results with students in the classroom. I will make a copy of each student's results so that one copy can go into each student's “Career Planning Portfolio” in my office and the other copy is to be taken home and shared with parents.

Wednesday of this week juniors have the opportunity to compete in the first hurdle of the National Merit Scholarship Competition. Juniors compete by taking the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test also known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). The assessment consists of:
Two 25-minute critical reading sections,
Two 25 minute math sections, and
One 30-minute writing skills section.

In the writing skills section, students do not write. Instead, they will be asked to identify sentence errors, identify ways to improve sentences, and identify ways to improve paragraphs. Good luck to the juniors who signed up to take this test battery!

North Dakota State Assessment
The North Dakota State Assessment will be administered during the week of October 24, 2005 to students in grades 3-8 and 11. The following week will be make-up time for those students who missed portions of the test. We hope that all students will get plenty of rest, eat a good breakfast, and of course do their best on this assessment.

The North Dakota State Assessment is the battery of tests that are used by the North Dakota Department of Pubic Instruction in determining if schools and school districts are achieving Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in North Dakota. In order to achieve AYP in North Dakota, each school must have a certain percentage of its students who achieve at the proficient or advanced levels of performance on the North Dakota State Assessment. In addition to overall percentages of students scoring at or above the proficient level, subgroups dissagregated by ethnicity, special education, etc. must also each have a certain percentage of their subgroup also achieve the proficient level or above.

The No Child Left Behind Act requires that by the school year 2013-2014 all students must score at the proficient or above performance levels. Next week's article will include how New Salem students did on the North Dakota State Assessment.
Good luck to the students on these assessments!

For more information on career information and links, please see my Career Planning website at If you have any questions on career, counseling, or assessment topics, please contact me at either New Salem High School at 843-7610, at Hebron High School at 878-4442, or at my residence at 222-3222.

Have an excellent academic day!