Michigan recently announced that high school juniors in the state will be allowed to take the SAT college admission exam for free beginning in 2016.
The SAT exam was chosen over the rival ACT after a bidding process took place. The College Board, the nonprofit group from New York that oversees the SATs, won a three-year contract with the state worth around $17.1 million. The win was important for the board, which is currently planning to unveil an updated version of the exam, writes Nick Anderson for The Washington Post.
The bid was $15.4 million less than the next closest bidder.
"The College Board's SAT test is respected and used around the country," said State Superintendent Mike Flanagan in a statement, "and Michigan high schools work with them now through their Advanced Placement program that helps students earn college credits while in high school."
The College Board will also begin providing students with free test prep materials and online practice tests. Professional development will also be offered for test administrators, teachers, students, parents and school counselors to help them better understand the new test, writes Kyle Feldscher for Michigan Live.
The new version of the SAT, available for the first time in the spring of 2016, will be aligned with state testing standards, reports Lori Higgins for The Detroit Free Press.
"The SAT is still a globally-recognized college entrance exam," said Marty Ackley, director of governmental and public affairs for the Michigan Department of Education. "More so on the east and west coasts than in the Midwest."
The state began administering the ACT in 2007. The SAT was still available for students who wanted to take it, but they needed to pay for it and take it after regular school hours. However, that will change in 2016 when students will be able to take the SAT during school for free. The ACT will still be available at a price outside of school.
The ACT is currently the most popular choice in the state. An analysis done last March by the Washington Post found that around 120,000 students in the state chose to take the ACT, compared to 4,300 who took the SAT.
The WorkKeys assessment, provided by ACT, Inc, will still be given to all high school students in the state under a three-year contract worth $12.2 million. The assessment is currently part of the spring testing period.
State law requires that both a college entrance assessment and a work skills test to be offered for free to all high school students in the state. Around 115,000 students in the state benefit from this law each year.
The SAT is also currently offered for free to students in Washington DC public schools.