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students taking ACT test

Bill requiring students take the ACT tabled

PIERRE, S.D.  — A House committee tabled a bill this morning (Friday) that would have required all South Dakota 11th graders to take the ACT.

The ACT is a college entrance test used by some universities for admissions. It is also used in many scholarship applications.

The sponsor of HB 1002, Republican Rep. Tony Venhuizen (vin-high-zen) of Sioux Falls, asked the committee to table the bill. That was after Secretary of Education Joseph Graves testified that the department would require the ACT instead of the current Smarter Balanced Assessment Test.

Graves said the state would move from the SBAT to the ACT for student and school assessment in the 2025-2026 school year.  He said Nebraska and Montana already use the ACT instead of the SBAT for the federally mandated evaluation of 11th graders.

“Using SBAT has been questioned (by some educators),” Graves said. “Students don’t find any value. They don’t take the test seriously.”

However, Graves warned that the state’s ACT scores would decline with all students taking the test. About 58% of South Dakota high school students take the ACT.

Graves said the education department already has the authority to mandate the test and will make the change in the 2025-26 school year. The first attempt at the test will be free to students.

Venhuizen said there are problems in getting students motivated to take the SBAT as it has no practical use in college admissions or scholarships. It would also take some financial burden off families who now must pay for their children to take the ACT.

South Dakota Voice Action lobbyist Debbie Pease testified against the bill. She said it took away parental rights to decide whether taking the ACT is in the best interest of their child.

However, Venhuizen said current waivers would have stayed in place in his bill.

The committee voted 12 to 0 to table the bill.

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