Free ACT tests to begin for juniors this year 

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Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced in a press conference today that the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) will pay for any junior to take the ACT this school year.

OSDE estimates that this could enable an additional 22,000 students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to take the test.

The pilot program, which is estimated to cost around $1.5 million, will be funded from the OSDE budget this year.

“This pilot is something that we know will change lives and will also lift our state,” said Hofmeister.

Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Rob Neu was at the press conference and spoke about the value of the new program.

“I like to think about public education as not being a competitive sport that produces winners and losers,” said Neu. “Our job is to not select or sort kids in or out but to give them the opportunities to be successful in our system.”

Several students were brought in to talk about the value of the program. One of them, Teria Rogers, a junior from Millwood, said that she was glad to see the opportunity for more students to take the ACT during the school day.

Currently, students have to find transportation and get off work to take the test on a Saturday. This program will allow schools to give the ACT during the school day if the students and their parents chose for them to do so.

Hofmeister told Oklahoma Gazette after the press conference that for all high school students, whether they live in urban or rural areas, it is difficult to get off work. But, currently, “in some rural areas, students have to drive long distances just to get to the exam site.”

Rogers told the Gazette that “the majority of [her] friends” could not take it due to working and that taking the test during the school day “will be very helpful.”

Rogers’ counselor, Petra Woodard, also spoke to the Gazette about the benefits of the program.

“At the junior level, it's going to make quite a bit of difference. A lot of our students use the fee waiver,” she said. “This will allow them to take the ACT in their junior year and then use the waiver in their senior year to take it again.”

ACT is an acronym of American College Testing. It was first given in 1959 by Everett Franklin Lindquist as a competitor to the College Board’s Scholastic Aptitude Test, now known as the SAT. The company reported more than 1.84 million high school graduates took the test in 2014.

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