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The Explore Test, A Talent Search

by Linda

I'd like to take this opportunity to reiterate how useful the Explore test has been in getting appropriate academic modifications for my son.

The Explore test is multiple choice, and takes about two hours to complete. Explore was developed by the American College Testing Program (ACT) as a test for 8th graders, and measures academic development in Reading, Math, English, and Science. (Calculators are allowed.)

My son took the Explore test three years ago at age eight as part of the Carnegie Mellon Institute for Talented Elementary Students (C-MITES) talent search. In the spring, we received information both about the percentile score he achieved compared with the 8th grade norm group in each area, and how he ranked compared with the other kids participating in the talent search. Educators tend to think that all kids who score in the 97th plus percentile on grade-level achievement tests have similar needs. By taking these kids and basically spreading them across the spectrum with an above-level test, it can be very illuminating to these educators, showing how wide a range exists even in this small group. Further comparing the students with the "average" 8th grader, the illustration becomes that much more potent. Because the C-MITES talent search is relatively small, I asked to receive a copy of the summary report of scores from the Belin Elementary Student Talent Search (BESTS) talent search to show that my son, who had done very well on the test, also compared extremely favorably with the larger group of talent search kids from that group.

By having the data on how well he did, both compared with the 8th grade norm group and the other gifted kids in the talent searches, we have been able to successfully advocate for additional acceleration for him. It may prove useful to us even now as we plan to advocate for high school level science classes for him next year because his performance on the science portion of the Explore three years ago would have indicated that he was ready for "honors" level science class that next year. We just chose to "hold him back" for the past few years. ;-)

Editor's Note: for more details on the Explore Test including sample items in each subject area, visit the ACT's page on Explore Elementary Student Talent Search.

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