Pacific High School juniors will not be offered the American College Test (ACT) free of cost for the 2017-18 school year, according to Dr. Terri Parks, Meramec Valley R-III School District curriculum director.

The test, traditionally taken annually by high school juniors, is used to determine students’ readiness for college level courses.

Some 97 percent of PHS juniors have taken the test at no cost for the past two years, along with high school juniors across the state when the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) funded the tests.

DESE notified districts in a July 2 administrative memo that Missouri cannot fund the 11th-grade administration of the ACT, following a $4 million reduction in the state assessment budget.

Students will have to pay approximately $40 to take the test.

An exception is available for some students. Districts may request fee waivers from ACT that allow junior and senior students who qualify for free or reduced lunch to take the test free of charge.

Speaking at the July 19 school board meeting, Dr. Parks stressed to school board members that college-bound juniors need to take the test, but she and Tom Sauvage, PHS principal, will urge all juniors to take it.

“Colleges look at ACT scores to determine acceptance,” Interim Superintendent Dr. Ed Hillhouse said. “But ACT scores also are used for some scholarships.”

Some colleges have specific ACT score requirements for admission. The advantage of taking the test as a junior is for each student to see his or her score. Students can raise their score by taking the test a second time as seniors, which could improve their chance of getting into the college of their choice.

“We encourage every junior to take the ACT, not just college-bound students,” Hillhouse said. “Some students may not know they are college-bound. A high ACT score could qualify them for a Bright Flight scholarship.”

Dr. Parks said the district will try to identify all college- bound students and urge them to take the test.