State implements mandatory free state testing for juniors
This year, Ohio students will be able to choose from three paths to graduation: end of course exams, technical certification and a passing score on either the ACT or SAT.
To enable the college placement exam option, the Ohio Department of Education is also mandating that all school districts administer one of the two tests to all of their students for free, excepting those with disabilities and those who have already taken it.
“This spring, approximately 117,000 Ohio juniors will take the ACT test and approximately 14,000 students will take the SAT at an approximate cost of $5.25 million. Approximately
95 percent of Ohio districts and schools will administer the ACT test and approximately 5 percent of districts and schools will administer the SAT test,” Brittany Halpin, the Associate Director of Media Relations at the ODE, said.
The Wooster City School District has opted for the ACT, which will be administered on 19 April, said high school guidance counselor Cheryl Goff.
An article in the Winter edition of the District Newsletter clarifies that students who have already taken either of the exams and received a remediation free score will be compelled to pay for the administration.
The ODE defines remediation- free as a score of 18, 22, and 22 or higher on the English,
reading and science subsections of the ACT.
Respectively; on the SAT the requisite scores are 430, 450 and 520 on the Writing, Reading, and Mathematics subsections respectively.
The state is not requiring school districts to administer the writing portion of the SAT, and thus WSCD will not be offering that section on the
April 19 testing date, according to Goff.
Joshua Hyman, a professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of Connecticut, has studied the introduction of mandatory and free college entrance exam policies in other states; he has found they have a small, positive effect on college enrollment and graduation rates among low-income students.
“Low income students often work on weekends, maybe can’t afford $50, and it might be hard for them to travel to another school. Also, because their parents and older siblings may not have gone to college, these students may not realize they should take these tests,” Hyman wrote in an email.
Halpin said that eliminating
these burdens was the primary goal in the implementation of the free and mandatory testing program.
Halpin states the goal is to encourage the enrollment of low income students in college.
Catherine Gewertz, writing in Education Week on Jan. 4, 2016, reported that these policies are a growing trend among states, and are not ones free of criticism.
Gewertz reports FairTest, a national nonprofit group that opposes standardized testing, chided the policies because they do not reflect a student’s academic performance.
In addition, to the SAT and ACT’s narrow scopes, they may not align with broader state standards; redirecting teaching-to-the-test instead of eliminating it.