story by Raleigh Norris, Abby Beauregard and Lacee Getter

This year, the state of South Carolina is being required to ditch the HSAP scores from last year and force students to take the ACT this year instead in it’s place.

Students are finding this as a shock and wish the school gave them a better notice.

“I do think they kind of threw it at us last minute,” junior Maddie Kimmell said. “I knew at the beginning of the year that we weren’t going to count the HSAP, but I had no idea we were going to take the actual ACT as the replacement so I think they just kind of threw it at us, but I think I’m ready for it.”

Students will also be able to send their ACT scores to colleges, since they are taking the actual ACT, and not just a test like PASS.

“The ACT gets you into colleges so if you do good it’s a good thing, and the HSAP was just practice so it didn’t really matter,” junior Lauren Jones said.

There were a couple reasons that the HSAP was replaced with the ACT, one of them being that legislators did not find the HSAP to be the best test to decide if you can graduate high school or not.

“Some of the issues with the High School Assessment Program (HSAP)  were that educators and legislators did not feel that the test was an accurate and complete representation of whether a student was ready to succeed in college or the workforce following graduation,” Dino Teppara, SC Education Department spokesman said. “The state’s education leaders realized that the HSAP wasn’t providing colleges and businesses with an accurate measurement for whether high school graduates were ready to enter either of those fields and be successful. The HSAP was providing a lot of data, but not much substantive, useful information.”

Tests are decided to be taken by students by the SC Education Department and then brought to Dutch Fork, where testing coordinator Melissa Turner decides what actions to take next.

“I am the one who it comes down to,” Turner said. “The State Department lets us know that this is the test we are taking this year, we are no longer taking the HSAP, but we are taking the ACT and Work Keys, and I get the information about the tests, and how to organize and give it.”

The ACT test is required to be taken to be taken by most all juniors, including some students in the Special Education Department, which has caused a great deal of controversy.

“The portion of the special education population is required to take it,” Turner said. “What we call our South Carolina ALT students, which is another portion of the special ed population, they are not required to take the ACT. As a whole, there is a portion that are required, but another portion that is not.” It basically comes down to what type of education plan those students have.”

Since the test is a requirement for Juniors to take it is bringing on controversy since the 2014-2015 Juniors had to take the HSAP last year.

“I think they should at least try to count both,” junior Dorsa Eliadorani said. “They already made us take a test and they keep adding test on test.”

Some students think it is best for the test to be a requirement.

“I think taking it for free is good because it’s free and they already have everything planned out on when you need to take it,” Maddie said. “So it just relieves stress because you already know when you want to take it and everyone takes it at the same time.”

Because the ACT is being required, students will take it during the school day for free instead of paying for it and taking it on a Saturday.

Even though most people think that requiring the ACT will be beneficial, some students think that the test will harm the school more than it will help it.

“I think it’ll harm more than help because some people will do really bad on it and some people will do good, but the majority will probably be half and half,” Lauren said. “I think that students would do better on the test if it was taken on their own time, and if they had to choose whether to take it or not.”

Though some students may be annoyed with the amount of tests that they are being required  to take, the South Carolina Department of Education has our best interest at heart.

“Ultimately, the aim of the college and career readiness assessments is to help students prepare to be successful in their lives after high school graduation,” Teppara said. “College educators and business owners have a consistently stressed that students enter college without the skills they need to work and succeed. These newly implemented tests will help assess high school junior’s knowledge and skills and provide them with useful feedback so that they can make adjustments before graduating.”