With broad support from area school districts, a bill sponsored by Representative Mike Unes (R-East Peoria) requiring the State of Illinois to provide the ACT test to any school district that wishes to employ it for purposes of measuring and demonstrating college readiness, passed through committee today despite opposition from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). This proposed legislation comes after ISBE’s unexpected decision to abandon its successful and well-established history with the ACT by instead entering into a three-year contract with SAT. The ACT has long been the preferred college-readiness exam in states like Illinois.
“I was surprised and disappointed when the State Board of Education announced last fall that it was ending its partnership with ACT in favor of SAT– a shift has been largely opposed by local school districts, while at the same time it offers no obvious net benefit to our state. The consequences of marginalizing our local school districts and our students in this manner far outweigh the immediate and insignificant cost-saving benefits of providing an alternative test, as cited by ISBE” said Unes.
By law, the Illinois State Board of Education must provide each high school student with the opportunity to take one college-readiness exam. The Board cites a modest cost-savings benefit in their decision to enter into a contract with SAT, amounting to just over $5 per student, or about $450,000 annually. Students may choose to take the ACT exam on their own, however without this legislation proposed by Representative Unes, they will have to individually bear the cost of around $39-$57 per test. With Unes’ legislation however, the State would uphold their statutory requirement to provide just one test to each student, but would give school districts the choice to administer either the ACT or SAT, based on a preference that supports their existing curriculum.
“We must never forget that our children are our most precious resource, and that it is our responsibility as a state to empower rather than to limit a school district’s ability to effectively manage their education. This sudden change in how our students are assessed for college-readiness represents yet another unnecessary and undue burden upon our already struggling school systems, and I am hopeful that this legislation can offer some relief to them by restoring the ability to utilize their preferred testing methods.” said Rep. Unes.
For more information on this or any other State issue, please contact Representative Unes’ Pekin District Office at 309-620-8631.