(a) School districts and charter schools may elect to participate in the Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS) program offered by ACT, Inc. to provide a longitudinal, systematic approach to student educational and career planning, assessment, instructional support, and evaluation. The EPAS achievement tests include English, reading, mathematics, science, and components on planning for high school and postsecondary education, interest inventory, needs assessments, and student education plans. These tests are linked to the ACT assessment for college admission and allow students, parents, teachers, and schools to determine the student's college readiness before grades 11 and 12.
(b) The commissioner of education shall provide ACT Explore tests for students in grade 8 and the ACT Plan test for students in grade 10 to assess individual student academic strengths and weaknesses, academic achievement and progress, higher order thinking skills, and college readiness. The state shall pay the test costs for school districts and charter schools that choose to participate in the EPAS program. The commissioner shall establish an application procedure and a process for state payment of costs.