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Monday, February 1, 2010

HB 1160: Home Schoolers Get Opportunity Scholarship with 26 ACT

Home schoolers, keep hitting those books! Representative Dan Lederman (R-16/Dakota Dunes) and Senator Stan Adelstein (R-32/Rapid City) are proposing HB 1160 to open the state's Opportunity Scholarship to students pursuing alternative instruction. Under HB 1160, home schoolers who don't fulfill the exact course requirements laid out by the Board of Regents for admission could still qualify for the Opportunity Scholarship by posting good test scores.

HB 1160 does set the bar higher for home schoolers. Regular high school graduates with the proper official coursework need only score a 24 on the ACT. Under HB 1160, home schoolers would have to prove their brain mettle by scoring a 26 or better on the ACT or a 1200 or better on the math and verbal sections of the SAT. But hey—for $5000, the extra effort is worth it!

And home school students have a fair shot at making that spread: in 2009, home schoolers apparently outperformed the national average on the ACT by 1.4 points.

Related: I see my Senator Russell Olson (R-8/Madison) has his name at the top of another bill tinkering with the Opportunity Scholarship. HB 1190 amends the one-semester speech requirement to include debate and requires another semester of language arts credit... like Advanced Debate! The bill also allows students to fulfill their two-semester fine arts requirement with participation in extracurricular fine arts activities that meet the fine arts curriculum standards... like debate! Russ! I didn't know you cared! Thank you!

HB 1190 tightens the math requirement, specifying that the fourth full math credit must be "advanced math," not just any elective or bonehead math. It also allows students to count approved career or technical programs toward qualifying. Finally, it requires more P.E. and health. Right now, kids can qualify with a semester of P.E. or health. by 2013, kids will have to take a semester of P.E. and a semester of health. The bill does cut a little health slack, allowing that course to take place as early as sixth grade or even allowing the school to certify that they "integrate health across the curriculum" instead of offering a separate course.

I think I'd still rather home school and ace the ACT. It's less complicated.

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