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ACT provided for free to TCSS juniors

Troup County School System juniors took the ACT college entrance exam for free on Tuesday at their respective high schools for the first time in five years.

According to a news release from the school system, when Superintendent Brian Shumate gave his first address to school system employees in August, one of his goals was to make sure every junior was able to take the test for free.

“Every kid should have a college experience in high school, even if they don’t plan to attend college,” Shumate said in a news release. “We want them to leave TCSS with a college entrance exam, apply and become accepted into college and create a college transcript while in high school.”

The system has budgeted about $35,000 to administer the test. According to a news release, the district expects to spend less than $35,000 because of the percentage of free and reduced lunch students.

Yolanda Stephen, director of public relations at TCSS, said Tuesday was the first time in five years the school system has offered the test during the school day, so there isn’t a financial or transportation barrier on the parents or students. Typically, the test would be taken on the weekend at West Georgia Tech, she said.

According to the news release, the three principals in the school system agree the free administration of the test helps in several ways.   

“The ACT is extremely beneficial for all students, even those that may be planning to go straight into the workforce,” Troup High School Principal Niki Watts said in a news release. “The interest inventory that students complete can help them identify careers that are best suited to their academic strengths as well as their personal interests and passions.”

LaGrange High Principal Alton White said the free program opens doors for some students who wouldn’t be able to go through without it.

“This is an excellent program as it gives students the opportunity to take a college entrance exam who may not have been able to before,” he said in a news release. “Some of them will realize that they have the potential to be successful in college and will pursue that path.”   

Jonathan Laney, Callaway High principal, said the free test levels the playing field for all students.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer this opportunity to all of our students,” he said in a news release. “It helps remove barriers for many students. Some may not have the family support to push them to take a college entry exam or there may be financial and logistical barriers. By offering the testing to all students, the playing field is leveled for everyone. It is possible that simply taking the test may be the first moment that a student determines post-secondary educational opportunities are a real possibility for them.”