Juniors to take free ACT on Tuesday, April 2

Due to the new school finance plan of a $500 million increase in April 2018 for K-12 education, every Kansas public school junior student will be offered a free ACT on Wednesday. UPDATE: Test moved to April 2 due to inclement weather. BVNWnews will be updating this story as we gather more information.

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Juniors to take free ACT on Tuesday, April 2

Kansas is offering a free ACT for all juniors Feb. 20.

Kansas is offering a free ACT for all juniors Feb. 20.

Maddie Beischel

Kansas is offering a free ACT for all juniors Feb. 20.

Maddie Beischel

Maddie Beischel

Kansas is offering a free ACT for all juniors Feb. 20.

Olivia Dowell, Features Editor

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To give juniors a leg up on the college application process as well as to improve state ACT averages, Associate principal of Curriculum and Instruction Tyler Alexander said a group of state legislators wanted to provide a free ACT for all juniors and other eligible students who did not have access to the exam due to the exam’s price of about $50. Alexander said students taking the ACT on April 2 will be able to take advantage of this test for several different reasons.

“Since there is no money tied to it, some may view it as a practice round, kind of a stress free ACT just to get some baseline data,” Alexander said. “Some may use it as their ACT to send off to colleges or some just may want to take it just as another ACT to see how they’ve done and see if they improve on certain areas.”

According to the ACT profile report on the state in 2017, the percentage of Kansas students taking the ACT and arriving at college benchmark readiness reached 29 percent which is the lowest since 2012, in comparison to 32 percent from 2016. The report also states Kansas students had an average total score of a 21.7 on the exam, which barely scores higher than the national average of a 21. Since the college benchmark readiness and the average score on the exam decreased, the ACT exam will be covered on the new school finance plan backed by former governor Jeff Colyer, which is a $500 million increase.

Colyer’s plan was first set back in April 2018 with the hope to end school finance litigation. The bill is set for funds to increase over the span of five years that includes new money for special education as well as for students to have free access to the ACT.

AP US History and Sociology teacher Matt Christensen said the test may help students who unable to afford the taking the ACT. Also, Christensen said he believes the upcoming test will give the school data on students’ performance levels.

“What I see in [the ACT] is that it will be able to get hopefully some decent data about how kids are reading, how kids are learning, what they know about their math and science,” Christensen said. “The categories in which the ACT covers material we might get some help, some feedback for ourselves and the building to know how our kids are doing.”

UPDATE: An email from Alexander was sent on Wednesday morning stating the schedule of April 2’s test date will be announced closer to the test’s date.

Like the testing day held in October to give freshman through juniors the chance to take the PSAT or the PACT, Alexander said the schedules have to change to accommodate the specific times the ACT or other standardized tests needs for sections of the tests.

“It’s a little bit different because it’s just the juniors testing on testing day,” Alexander said. “It’s a little bit more difficult which is why we’ve changed the schedule around, because to give a test to 400 students while the other twelve hundred are going to class is a logistical challenge to make sure we have people giving the test and we can keep a quiet environment for those test takers.”

Junior Katherine Poer took the nationwide ACT on Saturday, Feb. 9 and said she found out about the state-wide ACT two weeks later after signing up for the first February date. To prepare for the first test on the 9th, Poer said she had a prep class that she took through Princeton Review that had online prep as well as a class that she attended twice a week.

“It’s actually really cool because most ACT tests are normally nationwide and are a month between,” Poer said. “So it’s really cool for me because I only have to wait two weeks in between, so it’s really fresh in my mind what I just did.”

Alexander said students should utilize this opportunity to perform the best they can on this exam.

“It’s an important test to be taken seriously,” Alexander said. “This is just another [test]  where they can choose what they want to do with those scores, hopefully they do the best they can.”