High school headache

Michigan swaps the ACT for the SAT starting spring 2016

BY ELIZABETH CHAPA
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR

In the spring of 2016, high school students across the state of Michigan will be required to take the SAT test in replacement of the American College Test (ACT). Since 2007, all Michigan juniors were required to take the ACT as part of the Michigan Merit Exam, as it is a Michigan law that all high school students take a college entrance exam. According to mLive, this change will affect about 115,000 Michigan high school students who will take a college entrance exam and a work skills assessment each year for free.

The state of Michigan announced this decision on Jan. 7, which includes a three-year contract valued at $17.1 million for the assessment to be given at high schools awarded by the state to the College Board.

According to Michigan Radio, Michigan Department of Education said the contract with the College Board should save the state about $15.4 million over three years than the next bidder.

The cost of switch to the SAT is almost cutting the price in half over what it cost to run the ACT.

Those students who have taken the ACT in the recent years also had to take the WorkKeys as a work skills assessment the days following the ACT. It is Michigan law that high school students take a college entrance exam and a work skills assessment. Although the state is switching to SAT, ACT Incorporated will continue to provide the WorkKeys assessment for all high school students.

The WorkKeys test gauges career readiness. Both the SAT and WorkKeys will be administered as part of the Michigan Merit Exam. The three-year contract for the WorkKeys assessment will cost $12.2 million.

“I don’t really understand why they are changing it,” said Schoolcraft student Sarah Bridges. “On one hand it’s a pain that they have to change everything that everyone is used to, but then on the other hand, the money situation hopefully will be put to good use. I will have to look more into it before actually forming an opinion.”

The SAT is commonly more popular on the west and east coasts of the country, where as the central and Midwest regions are more heavy ACT takers. Every four-year college in the U.S. accepts both the ACT and SAT, so why is there so much controversy about switching to the SAT?

Between the two assessments, there are only minor differences including the test style, penalty for wrong answers and difficulty level. In the SAT, the questions are tricky and are difficult to decipher, along with the level of difficulty increasing as test takers moves through.

In the ACT, the questions are less difficult to decipher and are more straightforward; however, the difficulty level is random throughout.

Another key difference between the two is the penalty of wrong answers. In the ACT test takers do not lose points, and in the SAT . of a point would be deducted for every incorrect answer. This component is a major factor for students preparing for the exam.

The transition from ACT to SAT should not cause too many problems overall. The SAT may even be used as a strategy to raise scores. The SAT does not include a science portion, compared to the ACT, which test takers would get tested on the content of each area including English, math, reading, writing and science, all at once. The SAT is also broken up into 10 sections of reading, math and writing, which might make it easier to take on.

With that in mind, it is possible that students could score higher on the SAT versus the ACT.

One problem that could arise is not with the students, but with the teaching staff. Teachers that deal with the junior level of high school students have built and taught a curriculum around the ACT. Now that the ACT will be phased out, educators will have to work with a new goal and objective to teach their eleventh grade students.

Not only will the curriculum have to be restructured, it will also be more challenging to prepare students for the SAT.

According to the Detroit News, Wendy Zdeb-Roper, Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals Executive Director, said in a statement the switch will be even more challenging because the SAT’s administrator announced a significant retooling of the test beginning in 2016 and little information about it is available.

“I kind of wish that they would have given us more of a notice that it was changing, seeing as I heard from friends that they were changing it and not from the school itself,” said Livonia Franklin sophomore Katelyn Guest.

The ACT will still be available for students to take, but must be done outside of school hours, just as the SAT was available in the same manner when the ACT was