Proposal: All Wisconsin high school students take ACT

PEWAUKEE -- Every high school student in Wisconsin would take the ACT college entrance exam during their junior year under a proposal by the state Department of Public Instruction.

State Superintendent Tony Evers announced the idea Wednesday, September 12th in Pewaukee, saying it gives students a better assessment of life beyond high school.

"We're moving to a different place in the state of Wisconsin and we need to make sure our students are college and career ready.  This helps identify students' workplace skills and identify those areas where they need more help," Evers said.

Under the proposal, students would take a cluster of exams. In 9th and 10th grades, they'd take pre-ACT tests.  In 11th grade, they'd take the ACT, as well as a career skills test.  Those exams would replace the Wisconsin Knowledge Concepts Examination starting in the 2014 school year.

"It provides excellent information.  It's at the ACT level.  It's a test that kids care about.  It's going to be a huge motivator for them," Evers said.

Currently, 61 percent of Wisconsin public schools require the ACT, including the Pewaukee School District.  Superintentent JoAnn Sternke said her students are seeing overwhelming success.  98 percent of them graduate high school in four years.

"Of that pool of graduates, last year we sent over 91 percent onto a two or four-year college.  Simply said, we in Pewaukee believe in it," Sternke said.

The DPI's proposal would cost about $7 million over the next two years and must be approved by the Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker before taking effect.  Evers, however, is confident the plan will get the needed support in the upcoming bienniel budget.

"Making this system work for us is a priority.  We believe this will be supported," Evers said.

There are 10 other states that require students to take the ACT to meet state testing requirements.  Five of those states use the same cluster of exams proposed by Evers.