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Measure for state aid for college prep tests gets initial approval

Arizona high schoolers may get a little bit of extra state help getting into the colleges of their choice.

Without dissent the House Education Committee agreed Monday to spend up to $800,000 to set up an online system to prepare students to take the SAT or ACT tests. But the measure faces an uncertain future because of the price tag.

Rep. Heather Carter (R-Cave Creek)

Rep. Heather Carter (R-Cave Creek)

HB 2133, proposed by Rep. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, is one half of her ultimate goal: having all 11th grade students taking one of those tests — and at state expense — rather than Arizona’s own standardized assessment now used to help determine a school’s grade. But that measure, HB 2037, has yet to get a hearing.

Even without mandated and state-funded SAT or ACT for all, Carter told colleagues on Monday the funding to prepare them for that makes sense.

She said many high schoolers already take one or both of the standardized tests routinely used by colleges as part of the admissions process.

Some, she said, go to the regular scheduled Saturday sessions, picking up the cost themselves. Some school districts manage to get funds from private groups and foundations allowing them to offer the test during the regular school day to all their students.

The last group, Carter said, is composed of students in districts participating in a state-funded pilot program approved last year to offer the tests.

Carter said all of those programs provide what could be a path for students who want to go on to college to get admitted.

She said, though, that ultimately can depend on whether they do well on the standardized admission tests. This appropriation, she said, will help.

“It will now provide an online resource that both teachers and students can use to prepare for this test,” Carter said. And she said it would be set up so it could be used in the classroom by teachers and be made available to students to use from their own homes.

The idea of spending state money drew questions from Rep. Jill Norgaard, R-Phoenix, what with various free programs available to help students prepare for the tests.

Carter, however, said having the program provided through the state would provide school districts with better tracking information that ultimately will help the students.

“We want to be able to look at a statewide system and say here’s where we know kids are taking the test, here’s where we know who have signed up for the resources, here are the different curriculums they have engaged in, and then track the results so we know what is actually improving students’ performance on these tests,” she said.

No one testified against the measure which now goes to the House Appropriations Committee.

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