Should we require 11th graders to take the ACT/SAT or voc tests (at cost of $2.5 million)?

Division 10 of House File 2380 , the Education Reform bill (starts on page 16 of the bill) requires ALL Iowa 11th graders to take either the ACT or the SAT, OR a “career readiness” test (some type of standardized vocation training test). The stated purpose of this provision (I believe) is to encourage kids who would otherwise not consider college to … consider college. Which is a great idea, but…

a.  The test would not be given until the Spring of 11th grade, and the test scores would probably not be available until after school is out for the summer. Normally, most four year colleges have an application deadline sometime in the first two-three months of the 12th grade.  Thus, an 11th grader who had previously not considered college (and thus was not taking college prep classes) who surprises him or herself by doing well on the ACT would find it almost impossible to schedule the required classes that he/she hadn’t taken (since he/she hadn’t been planning on college), and would definitely not be able to get them done prior to the college application deadline. Which might prevent them from getting into college.  So if the test is supposed to identify kids who normally wouldn’t have considered college,  and provide them w/encouragement and incentive to consider applying, the test is really being given too late … why not do it early in 11th grade, or even better, at the end of 10th grade?

b.  The bill requires an 11th grader to take either the ACT/SAT or a “career readiness” test. So … who decides which 11th graders take which test? Seems to me that the kids who are going to be given the ACT/SAT will probably be the kids who are clearly in college track classes, while the kids who are given the vocation readiness testing will be the kids who are taking vocational type classes. Which kind of makes sense, but it certainly negates the whole theory that this testing will somehow identify students as college appropriate who would not normally have considered college — since probably, those are exactly the kids who will be likely be chosen to receive the vocational testing, as  opposed to the ACT/SAT tests.

c.  Finally, it is agreed by all parties that this required testing will cost the State at least $2.5 million a year — which at this point is not in the Education budget. Currently, dents considering college have to take either the ACT or SAT, and they have to pay for the test themselves (unless eligible for financial aid). Does it make sense for the State to take over responsibility for paying for this testing for all 11th graders?

 

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About Representative Mary Wolfe

Part time attorney; full time State Representative for Iowa House District 98 (East Clinton County)
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One Response to Should we require 11th graders to take the ACT/SAT or voc tests (at cost of $2.5 million)?

  1. sally ann says:

    Well, I’m sure ACT and ETS would be delighted by it, but you’re right, the timing’s weird and I guess I don’t see the point. I don’t really see what’s gained by trying to shovel more kids into college, either, if they aren’t already motivated to go. It sounds like a good way to make sure that a bunch more kids accumulate debt, then drop out without a degree. And in the process you put more pressure on the universities to lower the standards in the courses in hopes that they’ll retain kids, and then everyone’s shocked when it turns out that a BA’s not held in terribly high esteem. If we’re going to extend public school to 16th grade, then it seems to me we need to change how we fund it so that we don’t have all these 23-year-olds wandering around with tens of thousands in debt for a glorified high-school degree.

    We seem to be trying to force older teens to follow particular ed paths lately — stay in till 18, take college tests — and I’m not convinced it’s such a bright thing to do. Some kids don’t belong in college. Some will belong there, but not until they’ve worked hard at something else or just messed around for a few years. One of my closest friends is an Ivy PhD, but he didn’t bother with college till he was 24. Me, I went early. By the time a kid’s 16, 17, you’re really pretty limited in how much control you’ve got — they’re going to go their own ways whether you like it or not. I say let ’em go, let them decide whether college testing’s in he cards, just make it easy for them to come back if they decide against.

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