Nearly all Utah high school juniors will soon likely take a college admissions test such as the ACT during the school day for free.
The full Legislature passed SB175 on Wednesday, meaning it will now go to the governor for his signature. The bill would put $850,000 toward helping all public schools offer college preparation and admissions tests to students.
Those tests will likely include the EXPLORE, PLAN and ACT tests for eighth, 10th and 11th graders, respectively.
Already, about half of the state's juniors are taking the ACT during the school day for free as part of a pilot program. SB175 will allow state education leaders to expand the ACT to all juniors as well as offer the EXPLORE and PLAN to younger students.
"Many of our students don't attend college because they just believe they can't do it, they're not smart enough," said House floor sponsor Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy. He said many more students might realize they are prepared to go to college when they see their scores.
Judy Park, state associate superintendent, said the EXPLORE and PLAN, combined with the ACT will help better prepare students for college.
"It really gives kids that opportunity during the school day to take it," Park said of the ACT, "and hopefully they'll find out it's not as bad as they thought or they did better than they thought."
The bill was a priority this year of the state school board and the Governor's Education Excellence Commission. It was a state school board priority last year as well, but a similar bill failed then when lawmakers ran out of time to vote on it the final night of the session after political maneuvering.
Per this year's bill, special education students, those with individualized education plans, may take the ACT but will not be required to.