Educators unhappy with ACT requirement

Published 10:07 am Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ST. PAUL — Some Minnesota educators have continued to express concern over the state’s new ACT requirement for high school students.

Last year Minnesota became the 12th state to begin administering the college-entrance exam to every high school student, as well as one of a handful of states that requires it for graduation. The new practice replaces the Graduation Required Assessment for Diploma test.

Michelle Volk, a member of the Lakeville school board, said parents should be able to opt out if they feel the ACT is unnecessary for their child, especially if he or she has already taken it.

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“If a parent decides what is in the best interest of their student, there should be a way the state of Minnesota should allow this district to allow that child to graduate,” she said.

Kevin McHenry, the assistant commissioner of the state Department of Education who oversees the testing, said officials are listening to concerns and looking into potential changes, although they may require lawmakers’ approval.

The $13.5 million effort is meant to assess the students’ college and career readiness. But a Department of Education study released in August found the ACT isn’t adequately aligned with the state’s education standards, so students are still required to take the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments as well.

“If our standards do not align with a college test, maybe we should question our standards,” said Mary Cecconi of Parents United for Public Schools, adding she supports the new ACT requirement.

“It’s one of the most transformative things the Legislature has done in the last session.”

Other supporters, like Jim Bartholomew, education policy director for the Minnesota Business Partnership, think there should be a minimum score established for students to graduate.