Controversial required ACT practice develops mixed feelings

Good ACT scores result in more money for schools; thus, bad ACT scores means schools will be limited to a small budget. The high reliance on better test scores determines much more than money (where the state gives a certain amount of money to each school but varies depending how good ACT scores are). Prioritizing ACT study is not a new adjustment; however, is this a good or bad habit?

The American College Testing (ACT) program creates opportunities for students: scholarships, grants, college admissions, etc. However, evolving students’ test scores to create a bigger budget seems to take precedence over the “normal” learning curriculum. 

Chemistry teacher Billie Fortune says that “these new district finals” (a form of practicing for the ACT) mess up with teachers’ teaching schedule. The tests include more difficult subjects than commonly taught in classrooms, creating stress within the students. District finals “are kinda like the ACT,” said Fortune. The purpose of the tests are to prepare and give an example of what standardized tests look like.

These district finals count as a grade (but are graded differently depending on subject and teacher) and sometimes given without notice. Junior Luke Ferre, part of Fortune’s zero hour class, took the test out of surprise, without preparation. “I wish that this stress wasn’t given to us a few days before the final,” said Ferre.    

This simple equation of better scores equals positive results determines how teachers teach. Many revisions have been made this year to create a bigger budget. Students have felt that the district has lost their empathy when giving out ACT lessons. 

Along with more ACT preparation comes appreciation for it. “I do think some students have shown an interest in the changes, especially when they realize the difference a few questions can make in the amount of scholarship money they will receive, “said AP Language teacher Mara Schultz.

Standardized testing has been controversial; thus, many colleges have taken away by the ACT from their application requirements. Although, that does not mean that schools will completely disregard the ACT. Merit based scholarships are given to students who do well on the ACT, so teachers take it upon themselves to teach the importance of learning how to answer test questions. “We want students to be successful on the test as scores can determine the amount they receive for merit-based scholarships,” said Schultz.

The school provides one free ACT providing “students with a baseline to work from,” said Schultz. Developing the importance of standardized testing in the students’ lives is portrayed as the district’s priority as they continue practices. Even though there are mixed perspectives on the new test, the district sees it as a good opportunity for students.