GAC Newsletter

The Quarterly Newsletter of the ACT Global Assessment Certificate Program

GAC Academic Committee News

The Academic Committee’s priority goal is to guide the renewal of GAC curriculum and assessment content to ensure GAC academic quality of competency-based education. 

In May 2022, ACT officially launched two new courses, Social Emotional Learning Through Project-Based Learning and Education and Career Navigation: Finding Your Pathways. More than 360 participants from educational organizations—including teachers and school masters from ACT GAC schools in China, Mexico and Southeast Asia—met online to learn about the two new GAC courses and how to implement them in classrooms. 

Andrew Taylor, ACT vice president of products, gave a brief opening speech for the conference. He pointed out that, on the 20th anniversary of the GAC curriculum, the launch of two new modules is particularly meaningful, marking a new starting point for ACT GAC in the direction of holistic education. 

The Social and Emotional Learning Through Project-Based Learning course helps students develop the knowledge and skills needed for academic and workplace success. Students begin by exploring activities related to six SEL competencies and how they affect school, work, and personal lives. Next, student teams put these skills into practice by developing a plan and creating products that will positively impact their school culture. Throughout the project, students learn and apply SEL strategies to organize their tasks, improve their communication with others, manage their emotions, and persevere through challenges. In the end, teams will share their products with their schools, reflect on the process, and evaluate their personal growth and performance. Students leave this course with evidence- and research-based SEL practices they can apply to all areas of their lives.   

The Social and Emotional Learning Through Project-Based Learning course helps students develop the knowledge and skills needed for academic and workplace success. Students begin by exploring activities related to six SEL competencies and how they affect school, work, and personal lives. Next, student teams put these skills into practice by developing a plan and creating products that will positively impact their school culture. Throughout the project, students learn and apply SEL strategies to organize their tasks, improve their communication with others, manage their emotions, and persevere through challenges. In the end, teams will share their products with their schools, reflect on the process, and evaluate their personal growth and performance. Students leave this course with evidence- and research-based SEL practices they can apply to all areas of their lives.   

The GAC 031 SEL course is built upon a decade of ACT research, and empirical evidence of internationally valid content such as the ACT Tessera College Learning Curriculum, ACT Tessera Teacher Playbook, and ACT Behavioral Performance Level Descriptors.   

The GAC 032 E&C Navigation course is designed for students to engage in self-discovery as they design their college and career futures. The course develops students’ ability to understand their interests, experiences, and skills to make their own informed choices for education and career. It also helps students build skills that will help them stand out when applying to college by demonstrating their self-knowledge and how their personal profiles and key actions are a good fit for the colleges/jobs they are applying. In this way, the course prepares students to navigate the education and career journey with confidence and success. 

The GAC 032 Navigation course is built upon decades of ACT research in career planning, curriculum, vocational interest theory, and empirical evidence of internationally valid content by the leading research scientists in the field of education and career planning. 

In Focus: GAC Approved Teaching Centers in China

Guiyang Happy Valley International Experimental School

Guiyang Happy Valley International Experimental School is located in Guiyang, capital city of Guizhou province in Southwestern China. Since its founding in 2014, Happy Valley has grown into one of the most influential K-12 education institutions in the province. We provide education to more than 4,100 students ranging from kindergarten to grade 12. In the past three years, 100% of the Chinese National Curriculum graduates reach the undergraduate requirement and 88% are admitted into Tier 1 universities in China.  

In the same year, the International Department was founded to explore international education. It started to offer GAC curriculum in 2015, introduced the Advanced Placement (AP) program in 2016, and gained the registration certificate of Cambridge International School in 2019. 

So far, 100% graduates in the International Department enrolled in universities around the world, among which the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Japan, and Korea.

Student Testimonials

Guiyang Happy Valley International Experimental School

Qinghemei Yu

Destination University: Erasmus University Rotterdam 

"I’d like to say a huge thank you to GAC courses, President Mr. Peng of Guiyang Happy Valley International Experimental School, and my head teacher, Yao Su, for helping me get the admission letter from my dream university. 

GAC courses range from biology, business, computer science, and psychology. They not only enriched my knowledge but also helped me determine the direction I wanted to further study, which had a great influence on my choice of university major. In addition, presentations, group discussions, and essays in these courses have improved my English speaking and writing skills. They have helped me step out of my comfort zone and become a confident and expressive student. 

It is true that the courses in the GAC program can be difficult. However, this really differs per person and per subject. The first few weeks, it was mostly the way of teaching and studying that I found the most challenging. For me, the pace was a lot faster than in grade 11. This was, of course, quite an adjustment, but you shouldn't forget that everybody is going through the same thing! After a few weeks, you get used to it and develop the most efficient way of studying for yourself. The most important thing is to try to keep up so that not all the work piles up. So yes, the courses can be difficult, and they do require some hard work, but they are definitely not impossible. Do not be afraid; I am sure you will do just fine :)"

- Qinghemei Yu

 

Dongguan Hanlin Experimental School

Lin Zijun

Destination University: University of Toronto 

"Studying GAC has been an incredible experience for me. At first glance, I could tell that it was going to be much more enjoyable than the traditional Chinese teaching style. The program offers various subjects, from standard academic subjects like math and English, to more practical subjects like independent study skills. The curriculum teaches many essential skills that will be used in university and encourages students to be more critical and think outside the box.  

Through the use of various teaching methods like experimentation and role playing, the course is able to teach students the necessary knowledge without relying on rote memorization. The assessments teach crucial life skills like researching, critical thinking, and teamwork skills. These skills can not only assist us in our university studies, but also greatly help us in any of our future endeavors. Lastly, the GAC teachers are some of the best teachers I’ve ever met. They often interact with students during class to make sure everybody is participating, are extremely patient, and make sure nobody is confused about the lesson and are willing to spend their own free time after class to help those who ask for assistance.  

Overall, the GAC program has provided an amazing learning experience for me, and I am extremely grateful for it."

- Lin Zijun

 

Jinling High School (Nanjing, Jiangsu Province)

Huang Liming

"The GAC program is different from other programs. It cultivates independent learning, team spirit, and research skills. When preparing for a presentation on a massive social problem, students are required to break complex tasks into parts and steps: independently searching for information, settling down a thesis, and giving enough reasoning for the claim. During the process of preparing for the speech, students logically use pieces of statistics and evidence from reliable sources to support their claims and finally relate claims to the thesis. Therefore, a large proportion of students in our school report that their writing skills, the ability of logical reasoning, and critical thinking skills have been improved effectively.  

Since the GAC program gives enough opportunities for students to practice public speaking, many students have already overcome the stage fright and thus will no longer stutter or feel great anxiety when faced with presentations. Besides preparing students to be capable to work independently, GAC fosters cooperation ability and a holistic perspective on group work as well. Group projects enable students to adapt to various social situations they may encounter in the future and thus elevate their interpersonal skills; consequently, after they enter universities, they may find it less challenging to develop their own voice in relation to peers while still helping the whole team to make a consensus." 

- Huang Liming

Lyu Jiahan (Grade 10)

"The GAC center at Jinling High School has provided immense support for the students. English has always been a challenging subject for Chinese students. Teachers at the GAC center have been of great help in improving the students' written and oral English skills.  

Every single written assignment is carefully reviewed and graded by the teachers. Teachers also give valuable suggestions for further improvements. Moreover, teachers occasionally have productive in-class discussions to address common issues in most assignments, including improper citations, grammatical problems, and word misusages. These discussions have greatly improved my English writing skills.  

The students received much help from the teachers when preparing for GAC oral presentations. Before the students make the PowerPoint, the teachers will first brainstorm possible ideas related to the topic with each student. Then, the students will submit their PowerPoint and written script. After getting detailed feedback from teachers at the GAC center, the students will revise their script and PowerPoint. At last, individual mock presentations allow students to work on their public speaking skills with professional public speaking teachers at Jinling High School GAC center. The student's language proficiency in English is significantly improved during the process of writing, revising, and presenting speeches."

- Lyu Jiahan

Faoyao School (Tianjin)

"By taking GAC classes, we gradually become independent learners with a variety of learning skills. For example, we learned how to reflect by writing reflective journals, how to manage time by making semester planners, and how to work as a team.  

GAC courses also emphasize academic writing skills. From weekly logbooks to academic research essays or scientific reports, we have been studying various kinds of writing styles which has fully prepared us for future university study. Though the learning process can be challenging, we have had a strong sense of achievement after completing the whole program."

"GAC courses are a perfect match for our American curriculum and fully prepare students for future study. For example, GAC focuses on cultivating academic writing abilities. For students who transferred from Chinese public schools to a school with international curricula, it can be challenging at very beginning. However, with the support from facilitators and the Study Skills module, students learn how to deal with the stress and challenges. They start from discussing and communicating with their classmates and facilitators, submitting first drafts, making revisions several times until they achieved a satisfactory result. GAC courses help students make a successful transition and build a solid foundation for students going abroad to study."

- The Director of Studies

GAC Center News

New GAC Approved Teaching Centers in Asia

A very warm welcome to our two new ATCs who joined our growing GAC family in April and June. Educational Advising and Resource Center (NGO) is our first ATC in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia! We look forward to starting our cohort in November 2022 while Shine Singapore Helm Institute of Education becomes our official ATC in Siem Reap, Cambodia. 

New Partner University

United Kingdom - University of Kent 

University of Kent is a top 50 ranked UK university, offering outstanding teaching, world-leading research, safe and welcoming study locations, and a superb student experience. It offers a wide range of foundation, undergraduate, and postgraduate degrees, exciting study abroad and year in industry opportunities, summer schools, and a generous scholarship fund including awards for musical and sporting excellence and dedicated scholarships for international students. Kent has beautiful UK campuses close to London, and specialist postgraduate centers in Paris and Brussels. With a student body representing over 157 nationalities, students can have fun on a global scale. They can take part in Worldfest and Europe Day and celebrate events such as Holi, Thanksgiving, Chinese New Year, and many more.