Free ACT/SAT test for Ohio high schoolers comes with perks, concerns

CANFIELD, Ohio (WYTV) – It’s testing season in Ohio’s high schools, which means juniors can add the ACT or SAT to their to-do list.

But instead of paying $45 for it, it’s on the state this time, as the Ohio Department of Education is offering the tests one time for free.

“It’s actually getting people to want to want to take the test,” said MCCTC senior James Snyder III. “Even those students who might not be going to college.”

Posting an acceptable score on the ACT or SAT is a new way high schoolers can meet Ohio’s graduation requirements.

To be considered ready for college without any need for remedial classes, students taking the ACT have to earn at least an 18 on the English portion, 22 in mathematics and 21 in reading. For the SAT, the cutoff is at least 430 in writing, 450 in reading and 520 in mathematics.

Ninety-five percent of Ohio schools chose to offer the ACT for free, since it’s the most common admission standard for Midwestern universities. The ODE says that in 2015, 55 percent of students took the ACT, while just 7.2 percent took the SAT.

“[The ACT] consists of four tests, whereas the SAT consists of nine or 10 with 25 minute blocks,” said David Kornbau, Canfield associate principal.

Those who can opt-out of taking it are students who have developmental disabilities or have limited English skills because they’ve been in the country for less than two years.

The ODE is picking up the $5.2 million tab for the 131,000 11th-graders in the state.

When asked where the money was coming from, the ODE only said that in 2014 it became state law that there must be a nationally-standardized test given to all 11th-graders.

One of the other concerns for the administrators were the logistics: What are they going to do with the other students when the juniors are taking the test?

That’s because the free ACT/SAT will take place during the school day — not the usual Saturday morning.

“It’s over three hours for the test,” said Boardman Principal Cynthia Fernback. “So figuring out a schedule that allows that test to take place — and allows our other students to continue receiving instruction themselves — becomes a big problem.”

“I don’t want our kids to lose another day of instruction,” said Canfield Principal Mike Moldovan. “It’s bad enough the juniors have to miss a day of instruction in classes.”

“By the end of the day, it’s one more day of instruction lost,” Canfield superintendent Alex Geordan said.

Still, the administrators all said they are happy their students get this opportunity.

But with less than a month until the test, most districts are still trying to figure out what they’ll do with the other students — whether it’s giving them the day off or giving them a delayed start to the day.

Test-takers who sign up on their own will pay $42.50 for the ACT and $45 for the SAT.