Representative Unes Files Bill to Require ACT Test as Option for Illinois School Districts



State Representative Mike Unes (R-East Peoria) filed HB 4362 yesterday afternoon: A bill that would require the State of Illinois to provide the ACT test to any high school junior who wishes to take it for purposes of measuring and demonstrating college readiness.   This legislation comes after the unexpected decision made by the Illinois State Board of Education to abandon its long and successful history with the ACT by instead entering into a three-year contract with SAT.  The ACT has long been the preferred college-readiness exam in states like Illinois, as it is accepted by every post-secondary institution in the nation, unlike the SAT. 

“I am highly disappointed that the State Board of Education would make such a decision that is so strongly opposed by local school districts, and which offers no obvious net benefit to our state.  The consequences of marginalizing our local school districts and our students in this manner far outweigh the immediate and insignificant cost-saving benefits of providing a test that will ultimately be useless to many area students,” said Rep. Mike Unes.

By law, the Illinois State Board of Education must provide each high school student with the opportunity to take one college-readiness exam.  The Board cites a modest cost-savings benefit in their decision to enter into a contract with SAT, amounting to just over $5 per student, or about $450,000 annually.  Students may choose to take the ACT exam on their own, however without this legislation proposed by Representative Unes, they will have to individually bear the cost of around $39-$57 per test.  That cost is significant in area school districts such as Pekin’s 303, where 50% of its students come from households that receive means-tested State benefits.

“It would greatly serve our students to continue to be provided the opportunity to take a state-provided ACT exam. Without such an opportunity, many students at Pekin Community High School will not be able to afford to take a test that has a long track record of opening doors in the state of Illinois and beyond--doors that the state, with a signed contract with SAT, are closing,” said Pekin School District 303 Superintendent Danielle Owens.

With Unes’ legislation, the State would uphold its statutory requirement to provide one test to each student, but would give that individual student the choice to take the ACT instead of the SAT, if desired. 

“We must never forget that our children are our greatest hope and most precious resource, and that it is wholly irresponsible for our state to place unnecessary limitations on their pursuit for success through education.   We must also remain extraordinarily cautious about imposing further and undue burden upon our already struggling local school districts.  I hope that this legislation can give students, parents, and administrators some piece-of-mind in knowing that the State will not create such a compromising situation in regard to college testing,” said Rep. Mike Unes.

For more information on this or any other State issue, please contact Representative Unes’ Pekin District Office at 309-620-8631.