School district to offer free ACT prep class for students | VailDaily.com

School district to offer free ACT prep class for students

Assistant superintendent Phil Qualman is spearheading free ACT prep classes for public school high school juniors. This year's junior class will be the last to take the ACT. The state is switching to the SAT next year.

EAGLE — Work by Eagle County students who've been prepping for the ACT college entrance exam is not for naught.

The Eagle County school district is offering free ACT prep classes for school district students, and high school juniors will take the ACT this spring, instead of the SAT that the state will switch to next year.

The local school district has partnered with Princeton Review to bring free Princeton Review ACT prep classes to local public high school students, said Phil Qualman, assistant superintendent of Eagle County Schools.

All 11th graders take the ACT test, and can now take the prep program at no cost.

“Disparity in means should not dictate disparity in opportunity. It was critical to us if we were going to put this program in our schools that we made it accessible to all students at no cost.”Phil QualmanAssistant superintendent, Eagle County Schools

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"Disparity in means should not dictate disparity in opportunity. It was critical to us if we were going to put this program in our schools that we made it accessible to all students at no cost," Qualman said.

The grant-funded program provides students with an ACT prep class, Princeton Review ACT prep books, and access to full-length practice tests.

"The same class can cost students hundreds of dollars on the Front Range," Qualman said.

Aspen School District and Roaring Fork will also offer the class free to their students, he said.

Mandatory SAT testing

ACT and SAT exams provide colleges and universities with data they use to help make admissions decisions.

After intense lobbying efforts, last year state lawmakers opened statewide testing to competitive bidding. When the bidding was done in December, the College Board's SAT underbid the ACT by more than $7 million.

So, after this year all Colorado high school juniors will take the SAT instead of the ACT.

Colorado and 15 other states require a college entrance exam in the spring of student's junior year.

"GPA and extracurricular participation help paint the full picture of a student, but when weighing who to admit, the best predictor of academic success remains ACT and SAT scores," Qualman said.

Partnership Origins

The partnership originated from the Colorado Western Slope College Outreach program, the organization that puts on the Western Slope College Fair in Aspen, as well as College Symposiums at Colorado Mesa University and Colorado Mountain College.

Eight teachers from Battle Mountain High School, Eagle Valley High School, and Red Canyon High School participated in a four day Princeton Review training program and are now certified to teach Princeton Review ACT prep classes. Schools have latitude in how they design and implement prep classes, which will begin second semester of this school year.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.