Starting spring 2008, the Michigan Education Assessment Program test, also known as the MEAP, will be no more.

Instead, all high school juniors will take the ACT, free of charge, as part of a new two-day test called the Michigan Merit Exam.

The new test implements one of 19 key recommendations given by the Cherry Commission, a group charged by Governor Jennifer Granholm with finding a way to double the number of college graduates in Michigan in the next 10 years.

The commission advised that by using a college entrance exam as a standard high school assessment, the state could “increase students’ aspirations of attending a post-secondary institution.”

But local school districts hope the new test will kill two birds with one stone by encouraging more students to take the state’s assessment test.

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, school districts must administer a state assessment test to 95 percent of its students. In the past, districts have had trouble getting students to participate because the MEAP “doesn’t mean anything in applications to college,” said Liz Nowland-Margolis, spokeswoman for the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

Already, significant numbers of Michigan high school students take the ACT: According to Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, 68 percent of Michigan seniors took the ACT in 2004. Ann Arbor numbers were similar

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