By Jackelyn Severin
A bill expanding eligibility for the opportunity scholarship passed the Senate Education Committee. Originally, House Bill 1160 intended to add homeschoolers to the list of those qualified for the scholarship program but was revised after much debate.
Currently, to receive the opportunity scholarship a high school student must take ample credits in English, Math, Science, Social Studies, Computer Science, Fine Arts and foreign language. Students also have to have at least a C in all courses they take and receive a 24 or higher on the ACT. House Bill 1160 allows anyone including home school students who have not met these requirements to receive the opportunity scholarship, but they must get an ACT score of 28 or higher and receive sufficiently high markers in each individual section of the ACT. Those sections are reading, writing, mathematics and science.
Proponents say these changes to House Bill 1160 ensure South Dakota keeps the best and brightest students in the state.
Opponents say the state cannot afford to expand the opportunity scholarship program and a test should not be the only indicator of eligibility.
House Bill 1160 passed by a vote of 6 to 1 and goes to the House floor for further debate.
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