Editorial: Could this change get more students thinking of college?
State School Superintendent Tony Evers has proposed that all 11th graders take the ACT standardized college admission exam as well as a separate career skills test starting in the 2014-15 school year. In addition, 8th, 9th and 10th graders would also take a pre-ACT test.
Under Evers' proposal, which would cost the state $7 million, the ACT would replace current high school standardized testing. Approval to make this happen would have to come from Gov. Scott Walker and the Legislature.
Our first reaction to the ACT proposal is positive. Therefore we hope the governor and our area lawmakers give it serious consideration.
Some positives include:
--Having every high school student take the ACT will likely get more of them thinking about a post-secondary education and careers. Maybe some who do well on the ACT will realize for the first time that they are college material.
--Families and their students won't have to pay to take the ACT. The costs do add up, especially since many students end up taking the test more than once, some even three or four times.
--Since the ACT is a national test, the results will allow for better comparisons between Wisconsin high school graduates and those from other states. This will be another way to assess how well our school systems are performing and preparing students for life after high school.
--The early pre-testing for ACT will also better position middle school students and their parents to plan wisely for high school classes needed to be college ready.
River Falls School Superintendent Tom Westerhaus agrees that, at first blush, the ACT proposal looks promising.
It offers universal testing and more educational data to benefit students, families, teachers and school administrators. Westerhaus has a concern, as do others, about whether current state curriculum standards for core subjects are properly aligned with the ACT test questions.
Presumably there's time to make such adjustments so that the match between the two works. Until then we'll just have to watch to see what happens.