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 by 73-36 votes in the Illinois House of Representatives 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 that has been largely opposed by local school districts while at the same time offering no obvious net benefit to our state. I believe that the consequences of marginalizing our local school districts and our students in this manner far outweigh any of the immediate and narrow cost-saving benefits cited by ISBE in their decision to enter into an exclusive contract with the SAT,” said Rep. Mike 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.
“I am incredibly pleased to have received this degree of bipartisan support for the legislation. I am encouraged to see that despite the currently toxic environment in Springfield, there remain ways in which we as a legislative body can come together to affect some moderate, positive change while we continue to work toward resolution to the larger, more serious issues that plague our state. I sincerely hope that days like this will represent to us all that we do in fact have the ability to find common ground on challenging issues, and that we will continue to apply that attitude moving forward,” said Rep. Mike Unes.
For more information on this legislation, please contact Representative Unes’ Pekin District Office at 309-620-8631.