Bill would help students graduate

January 3, 2013

Students who are unable to meet certain requirements under the Achieving Classroom Excellence Act (ACE) would be able to graduate under legislation filed by Sen. Earl Garrison.  Senate Bill 11 allows a composite score of 18 or higher (equivalent to the 34th percentile or higher) on the ACT exam to count as satisfactorily completing all of the ACE end-of-instruction testing requirements.

“Not all students are able to test in the same way and be successful.  We have students who are not able to pass all of their end-of-instruction tests, but can get an 18 on the ACT. It seems unfair to me to keep them from graduating when they can accomplish that score,” said Garrison, D-Muskogee.  “Students will still have to pass all of their required courses, this is just another option to help our students graduate.”

The ACT consists of four tests in English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science Reasoning.  All four-year colleges and universities in the United States accept this test.  Currently, portions of the ACT test can be used as alternative tests for certain ACE subject tests.

“The ACT has been around for over 50 years and its validity is well established and it’s more closely aligned with the curriculum being taught,” said Garrison.  “Not only will allowing the ACT to be used in place of the end-of-instruction tests benefit students, it will also save the state millions as the ACT test is paid for by the students, whereas the end-of-instruction tests are paid for by the state.”

The bill would also give school districts the option of adopting a policy allowing students who do not meet the ACE requirements to graduate with a standard diploma.  The school district would be required to report the reasons students were exempted.

“Again, while a student may be bright and smart enough to be successful after graduation, they may not test well,” said Garrison.  “I think it’s unfair to punish them by holding them back simply because they aren’t good test-takers.  This will allow them to continue on and graduate regardless of their performance on the end-of-instruction tests.”

Garrison, a retired educator, said he has spoken to numerous superintendents in his district and they want a composite ACT score of 14 to be allowed to replace the end-of-instruction tests.  Garrison said he agrees with the superintendents and will share their concerns when the bill is considered in committee.