Missouri schools give free ACT exam to juniors

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COLUMBIA - On Tuesday for the first time, Missouri schools administered the ACT college entrance exam to all 11th grade high school students. The exam was during regular school hours and was free of charge to students.

According to a press release from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the state set aside $3.8 million to give the test. DESE estimates that around 50,000 Missouri students took the exam last year, and it expects around 65,000 students took the exam Tuesday.

Annette Crowder, director of admissions and recruitment for Lincoln University, said she thinks giving students the test is a great idea.

"I'm so energized to know that's happening," Crowder said. "Students start taking it early, learn the test, can begin predicting the test and eventually they begin to do better."

She believes it will lead to a higher percentage of students attending college.

"They will have a goal. The better the score, the more options they have for scholarships."

She was not the only college admissions worker to have this sentiment. 

"It is a way, especially in the community that we live in that is full of higher education, making that opportunity available to everyone, is just one step in the right direction as far as valuing an education in this community," said Tiffany Goalder, assistant director of undergraduate admissions at Stephens College.

Tamika Thornton has a child who attends a Columbia school. She said she believes the timing of the test is appropriate. 

"If they take it their junior year and don't do so well, then they have that later time to be able to take it and be able to do better on it," Thornton said. 

Focus on Learning is a tutoring center in Columbia which offers ACT preparation. Workers told KOMU 8 they have seen a large increase in number of students seeking ACT help. 

"I have been swamped," said Colby Johnson, a math and sciences tutor at Focus on Learning. "It has been a crazy, I'd say five or six weeks of us getting 15 to 20 students a week. Me alone getting 15 to 20 students a week, not to mention everyone else here." 

Johnson and another employee at the center encouraged parents to seek out opportunities to help their kids achieve higher scores. They offer ACT help all year. 

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the misspelling of "Goalder."]