ACT state organizations have come a long way in 50 years. All 50 states are now represented through 44 ACT state organizations, which have more than 8,000 members.
ACT state organizations have progressed with the times. They have become much more diversified in scope to address a broader agenda, said Alan Tuchtenhagen, Wisconsin state representative and associate vice chancellor for enrollment services, University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
State organizations were at the heart of ACTs initial organizational structure. In 1959, ACT founders E.F. Lindquist and Ted McCarrel began organizing their professional colleaguesemployees of colleges and universitiesinto a network that would lay the foundation for the state organizations.
The original 16 states that joined in 1959 were Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. By the end of the academic year, ACT had recruited three more states: Alaska, Idaho, and North Dakota.
The first state ACT coordinators were paid advisors who had direct involvement with ACTs organization and development. Upon the companys founding, McCarrel appointed regional directors to help state organizations promote the ACT test. In 1961, state coordinators became volunteers and served on ACTs governing body. The role of the state coordinator evolved into that of state representative, a position that was either elected or appointed.
In 1965, ACT established a 15-member Board of Trustees, with state representatives filling eight of the positions. For the next 38 years, many of the state organizations worked primarily with postsecondary institutions. As ACTs scope expanded to include new constituenciessecondary educators, workforce professionals, and government officialsso did the composition and role of state organizations. Early in this decade, a task force convened to redefine the role of the state organizations and, in 2004, the ACT Board of Trustees adopted the task forces recommendations to achieve this goal.
Today, ACT state organizations are generally led by a council and executive committee consisting of a state representative, chairperson, chair-elect, past chair, and secretary. Members continue to provide advice and support to ACT. Their duties include:
The new structure has opened the door to opportunities for state organizations to work closely with education, business, and government professionals in their states and with ACT staff to help people achieve education and workplace success. State organizations hold annual conferences to distribute information, discuss ACT research, share expertise, and recruit new members. More than 6,000 people attend the annual conferences.
Our state conference is a great way to find out what the needs are around the state and how ACT can help meet them. Our issues are similar to the national agendaincreasing college and career readiness so our economy can thriveand weve drawn on ACTs vast resources to show people how they can help with this challenge, said Gordon Stanley, former Georgia state representative and director of counseling, Marist School, Atlanta.
Sandi Oliver, South Carolina state representative and vice president for Student Development Services, Midlands Technical College, Columbia, agrees that the conferences are important. ACT has done an incredible amount of research that parallels the work we are doing in the state to increase academic rigor and address workplace competencies. The conference helps us get information into the hands of the people who can have an impact on education and the workforce.
Overall, state representatives like the direction state organizations are now headed.
ACTs renewed commitment to state organizations is helping attract a new generation of volunteers, said Russ Kreager, Minnesota state representative and director of admissions, Bemidji State College. The people participating now are even more experienced, more knowledgeable, and more engaged than ever. ACT has created a new standard and a new culture that will allow the role of state organizations to continue to evolve.