FAIRBANKS — High school students are no longer required to take college entrance exams or job skills tests to get a diploma in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.
The Board of Education dropped the testing requirement on Tuesday after a similar move at the state level and at Alaska’s other large school districts.
Previously, students were required to take either the SAT, ACT or WorkKeys assessments.
There was no minimum score required to earn a diploma.
The state paid for the testing but the appropriation was cut from its budget last year.
School board members wondered whether to keep it as a local requirement if it helps graduates get jobs or enroll in college.
But the board ultimately dropped the requirement at the recommendation of the school district administration.
“You always have to understand that for certain students, even taking it is a barrier,” Craig Kind, head teacher at the Career Education Center, told the school board.
Melanie Hadaway, executive director of Teaching & Learning, said in a Dec. 27 memo that making the tests a requirement is not expected to boost ACT and SAT test takers.
“There isn’t a significant difference in the numbers of students taking the ACT/SAT whether it’s required or not,” Hadaway wrote.
According to the memo, students who don’t plan on applying to college have no vested interest in scoring well on college readiness tests.
In addition, providing ACT and SAT testing would require high schools to register as testing sites, Hadaway wrote.
This year, more than 80 percent of high school seniors have taken the SAT, ACT or WorkKeys tests, Hadaway said.
Alaska reportedly has the second-lowest rate of high school graduates going to college among the 50 states.
During the past two years that the state required college entrance or work readiness exams, the number of SAT and ACT test takers went up statewide by almost 1,400, said Saichi Oba, associate vice president for student and enrollment services at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.