2018 to be last year of free ACT

State will no longer reimburse exam costs for all students


Photo Illustration by Lukas Levin.

Emma Kempf

According to district director of assessment, evaluation and research Prachee Mukherjee, this February is the first year the state will not reimburse all students for the February ACT.

“As of (this) spring, what the state has said is that it will reimburse all students who are eligible for free and reduced lunch,” Mukherjee said.

Mukherjee said the district will find funds to cover all remaining junior students’ ACTs this February, but the case may not be the same in future years.

“I think the extent to which we are unable to pay for the test out of our district funds is going to prevent certain students from being able to take the test,” Mukherjee said. “If you offer the test on a Saturday, and not on a regular school day, that could be a barrier. Another barrier could be the cost of the test.”

Junior Estelle Tronson said she believes it is good some students’ tests will be reimbursed, but that it is better when everyone is offered a free ACT.

“I’m sure there are people who don’t have the opportunity to go somewhere else or pay for it, and it’s really convenient to have it in the gym during school hours,” Tronson said.

Sophomore Euan Lim said all students should be offered a free ACT despite a free and reduced lunch status.

“I’m extremely frustrated,” Lim said. “My mom is probably going to make me pay that out of (my) pocket. As for other people, that would be bad because there are families that don’t qualify for free and reduced lunch but should.”

Mukherjee said the free ACT prepares students for college, helps the district evaluate where to improve in career and college readiness and give equal opportunity to all students .

“(A free ACT) is not selecting students and saying ‘I think you’re college bound and therefore you take the test,’” Mukherjee said. “We do that in so many different ways throughout our students’ educational experiences, where we sort them and in the process diminish them, and somehow give them a message that ‘you’re not deserving of.’”

According to Mukherjee, the availability of a free ACT in future years will depend on the district budget, but it remains the district’s intent to allow every student to take the ACT.