ACT Plans Center to Help Underserved Students Succeed in College and Work Force

These days, everyone’s talking about “equity,” and now a testing company has affixed the word to a new effort. The company behind the ACT on Wednesday announced plans for a Center for Equity in Learning, which will focus on helping underserved students succeed in college and the work force.

At a news conference in Washington, officials from ACT Inc., in Iowa City, said the center would conduct research on — and develop strategies for — closing achievement gaps. The center plans to collaborate with several organizations with existing ties to ACT, including the Council for Opportunity in Education, Excelencia in Education, and the United Negro College Fund. Although ACT provided few details about the initiative, the center plans to further the organization’s research on nonacademic factors that influence success in education. The center also will conduct “groundbreaking research” in the field of personalized learning, said Marten Roorda, ACT’s chief executive officer.

Altruism aside, the announcement signaled that ACT hopes to raise its profile on the nation’s education stage, broadening awareness of the organization and its goals, as Mr. Roorda acknowledged. In the past, he said, “we have been too reluctant to share our opinions. … We have been too content to let our research rest on library shelves.”

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