Board members discuss dropping ACT as a requirement for high school juniors

Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 8:28 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - State School Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey is clearing up some confusion about the ACT exam in schools.

The topic of getting rid of the ACT exam for high school juniors came up during the school board meeting this week, but it’s far from a done deal.

Dr. Mackey stressed that the board has not made a final decision about dropping the ACT.

In fact, he said it’s not even formally on the table.

However, Dr. Mackey did say that some school superintendents have spoken to a board member about dropping the ACT in favor of a graduation exam—much like the one the board abandoned about 10 years ago.

The ACT is a high school accountability test and all high school juniors are required to take it.

Right now, the board is collecting data on whether dropping it is a viable option, but Dr. Mackey said a survey taken about this very topic a couple of years ago showed that school leaders were greatly divided on the subject.

If the board decided to drop the ACT, they would have to replace it with a new test, but Dr. Mackey said that would take a lot of time and money to implement.

“The cost is in development, and then of course, there’s an annual cost. I couldn’t give you an exact number, but you’d probably be somewhere in the $2 to $5 million range. That’s a pretty wide window and that’s because it would depend on how many subjects. Would we just be talking about reading and math? The old graduation exam was five subjects, so those kinds of decisions would have to be made. And again, if the board decided to proceed with the conversation.”

Dr. Mackey said even if the board decided to drop the ACT, they would still offer it to students at no cost.

He said students can take the ACT multiple times beginning in 7th grade.

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