Free breakfast before taking the ACT college entrance exam

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With thousands of students preparing to take the ACT college entrance exam in a few days, the ACT company is offering free breakfast to kids  in certain Florida and Texas schools.

It’s part of a pilot project that launched last fall and is now expanding, with more than 1,000 students in Florida taking part in the free breakfast initiative on Saturday in 11 high schools in Bay, Clay, Miami-Dade, Orange and Pinellas counties. Kids will be able to eat prior to the exam.

“The initiative draws from ACT research demonstrating that students who experience hunger—particularly those who have missed breakfast—are less able to perform academically, especially when testing,” according to the testing giant’s news release.

ACT senior vice president Scott Montgomery, said in a statement: “We believe every student should have an equal opportunity to show what they have learned without hunger getting in the way, and we are thrilled to partner with these districts to help make this idea a reality for students.”

ACT spokesman Ed Colby told the Phoenix that “the actual breakfast is left up to the district/school, so it will vary from location to location. Because this is a pilot, there is not a standard menu yet but rather whatever the administrators feel best fits the needs of their students using ACT funds.”

A few Florida lawmakers were included in ACT’s news release, including State Sen. Rob Bradley, who represents several North Florida counties and is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Bradley is quoted in the news release as saying, “Experts have long said that a healthy breakfast can improve student performance in the classroom and on standardized tests. We are pleased that ACT has chosen the Clay County community to serve as a pilot project for its Breakfast before ACT Testing pilot program.”

The breakfast initiative comes at a time when a national college admissions scandal has raised concerns about cheating and security on the ACT and SAT college entrance exams used for college admissions.

Those exams are supposed to be sacrosanct.

ACT said in an earlier statement that it has been fully cooperating with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts and other law enforcement units “to identify and expose the few bad individuals who have attempted to undermine a fair testing environment.”

The College Board, which administers the SAT, stated earlier that: “The College Board has a comprehensive, robust approach to combat cheating, and as part of that effort we work closely with law enforcement, as we did in this investigation. We will always take all necessary steps to ensure a level playing field for the overwhelming majority of test takers who are honest and play by the rules.”





Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.


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