Arizona House Bill Would Require High School Juniors to Take ACT or SAT

Photo Credit: Ken Lund (CC-By-SA 2.0)

This week, HB 2037, a bill filed in the Arizona House of Representatives, if passed would not require high school juniors to take AzMerit or the AIMS Science test. Instead, they would take a college-readiness exam like ACT or SAT.

The bill sponsor is Arizona State Representative Heather Carter (R-Cave Creek) who represents Arizona Legislative District 15. He serves on the Arizona House Appropriations Committee, the vice-chairman for the Arizona House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, and the Chair of the Arizona House Health Committee.

The pertinent bill language reads:

E.  NOTWITHSTANDING SUBSECTIONS A AND B OF THIS SECTION, BEGINNING IN THE 2018‑2019 SCHOOL YEAR, THE STATE BOARD:

1.  SHALL NOT ADMINISTER THE STATEWIDE ASSESSMENT PRESCRIBED IN SUBSECTION A, PARAGRAPH 2 OF THIS SECTION TO PUPILS IN ELEVENTH GRADE.

2.  SHALL NOT ADMINISTER THE ASSESSMENTS OF THE ACADEMIC STANDARDS IN SCIENCE PRESCRIBED IN SUBSECTION A, PARAGRAPH 2 OF THIS SECTION TO HIGH SCHOOL PUPILS.

3.  SHALL ADMINISTER TO ALL HIGH SCHOOL PUPILS A STATEWIDE COLLEGE READINESS EXAMINATION THAT INCLUDES A SCIENCE COMPONENT.

The bill has been assigned to the Arizona House Rules Committee.

AZCentral.com reported on the bill prior to it being filed:

House Bill 2037, introduced on Dec. 18 by Rep. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, would eliminate the state requirements that juniors take the AzMERIT test and the science portion of the AIMS test. Instead, they would have to take the SAT or ACT during school hours.

Students wouldn’t have to get a certain score on the tests in order to graduate.

Carter said the low stakes of AzMERIT result in students not trying very hard on the tests, and believes requiringcollege-readiness exams insteadwould set them up for success.

“Universities and scholarship programs seek out those students that do well,” she said.

The goal of AzMERIT is to provide insight into a student’s educational growth.Carter said such a goal is wasted on students taking the test during their junior year since they typically receive results their senior year.

At that point, she said,the college-readiness exams would serve them better.

Furthermore, she said,providing the ACT or SAT tests free to students during school hours and making them compulsory would dramatically increase the number of students who take the test.

The bill itself does not specify which exam juniors would have to take. Presumably the state board would create rules outlining which assessments are allowed. The SAT, run by the College Board, has fully aligned their test to the Common Core State Standards.

ACT initially announced they would align to the Common Core, but has not done so as of yet with their college-entrance exam. In a 2012 white paper they would not make the claim ACT was aligned to Common Core, only that they shared research with those developing Common Core. ACT also developed an assessment, ACT Aspire, for use as a statewide assessment for use with states that use Common Core. They have also developed a social-emotional learning assessment. Interestingly enough, in 2016, ACT critiqued Common Core saying it did not reflect college readiness in some aspects.

Even so, may parents and activists are leery of ACT because of their initial involvement with the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

It’s unclear whether students could use alternatives like The Classic Learning Test or Vector ARC instead of SAT or ACT. If it has to be a choice between SAT or ACT, I’d encourage parents to choose ACT. ACT is still somewhat a wild card, but we know the SAT is all in with Common Core.

All of this is a moot point if the bill doesn’t pass though.