District pays $50,000 for students to take ACT, SAT

Juniors will be taking both tests through the school in April

Danielle Kurensky

Despite the state’s transition to the SAT, juniors at New Trier will take both the SAT and ACT free of cost this spring as the district has paid for the ACT, which remains popular among both students and educators.

Every state is required to provide one of the two college entrance exams to all public school students their junior year free of cost. State’s do this in an attempt to make the college admissions process more fair for all students. For the second year since Illinois’ change to the SAT, juniors will take both the ACT and SAT, which costs the district $50,000.

Peter Tragos, the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, said, “[The ACT] is an important test for students, since most of our students actually use the ACT for their college entrance exam.So we thought it was important to continue to offer that as one reason, it’s a service to our students.”

Furthermore the district feels it is necessary to provide both exams to compare data of student growth.

For over a decade students have taken the PLAN test, which was created by ACT, their sophomore year they would then take the ACT their junior year. This system allowed administrators to compare students’ scores and track growth throughout high school.

Now as the state switched to the SAT and the Pre- ACT replaced the PLAN test, New Trier does not have enough data to compare these results. On the other hand, the school has over a decade’s worth of data about the ACT.

“We think that is important data for us to know about our students and how their growing between Sophomore and Junior year,” said Tragos.

Although colleges today accept both tests, the ACT has long been popular in Illinois and few students have historically taken the SAT. According to Testing Coordinator, Peg Stevens, “typically less than 200 students take the SAT for college purposes.”

Majority of New Trier students don’t even consider taking the SAT.  “Some people assume they will be better at one or the other and never find out,” said Post High School Counseling Department Chair, James Conroy II.

Many fear that having juniors take both standardized tests one week apart adds to the stress of junior year. Many agree with junior Samm Wojcik, who said that taking both tests “100 percent adds to stress.”

This change has caused many to reexamine the purpose of these tests. Colleges use these tests to see how different students perform on the same test, but many argue that these tests are no longer impartial as students in high-income areas can benefit from tutoring. Many question whether standardized testing is the best way to demonstrate students’ knowledge. English teacher Lissa Raguseo, said, “It ultimately doesn’t become a day off. I see how it can add stress and I’m thinking about what our goal is here.”

In the 2016-2017 school year, 90 districts in Illinois paid for the ACT to be given in addition to the SAT. The change of tests, which many view as abrupt, came after Illinois’ 15 year contract with ACT came to an end and was replaced by a $14.3 million, three year bid from the SAT. New Trier plans to offer both tests, but this is subject to change. This year, juniors will take the ACT on April 3 and the SAT on April 10.

Although the ACT remains the preferred tests by students, many agree with junior Sylvia Rybia who said that, “I’ll submit whichever one I do better on.”