Our Opinion: ACTs not the best choice for all students

Published 10:02 am Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Requiring high school juniors to take the ACT, and providing the $13.5 million required to pay for it, sounds like a good deal.

We question that it is.

After all, the ACT is the standard college entrance exam that high school students must take if they want to be accepted to a college. The ACT is also a national standard, which means that schools can be compared fairly.

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That said, in today’s economy, requiring a test that will focus even more effort on sending students to traditional four-year colleges is not a good idea.

The fact is, the job market is brimming with openings for “middle-skill” positions requiring nine months to two years of training — electricians, plumbers, auto body technicians, and welders, to name a few. Riverland Community College trains students in many of these jobs. Such jobs offer a living wage, and a comfortable lifestyle. Yet, there are not people with such skills available to fill them.

One of the only solutions is to encourage and train high school students. If students understand that good jobs can be obtained for only a fraction of the time and money of those requiring college degrees, they may consider it.

Students who are ready and able to attend four-year universities will continue to do so. But not every student should attend a four-year university. Requiring that they take a college entrance exam seems counterproductive.