De­fend­ing the SAT/ACT

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION -

As education lead­ers, we are com­mit­ted to mak­ing sure stu­dents are col­lege- and ca­reer-ready. Pro­vid­ing the SAT col­lege en­trance exam at no charge to Illi­nois stu­dents through the Illi­nois State Board of Education is an im­por­tant way to ac­com­plish that goal. Some col­leges/uni­ver­si­ties have made the as­sess­ment optional, and we have sev­eral con­cerns about this trend.

Eq­uity: Hav­ing the SAT and ACT be optional might sound like it will make ac­cess to col­lege more eq­ui­table, but it cre­ates more bar­ri­ers:

Some col­leges/uni­ver­si­ties have shifted to us­ing pri­mar­ily grade-point av­er­age for ad­mis­sion. While we have nar­rowed the achieve­ment gap, re­search in­di­cates low­in­come and mi­nor­ity stu­dents over­all are still per­form­ing lower aca­dem­i­cally.

If col­leges/uni­ver­si­ties no longer re­quire the SAT, but leave other stan­dards that re­quire re­sources in­ac­ces­si­ble to all stu­dents, it could be a dis­ad­van­tage for un­der­rep­re­sented stu­dents. It is in­cum­bent on us to mon­i­tor the Pell Grant (a fed­er­ally funded award to help low-in­come stu­dents pay for col­lege) to en­sure en­roll­ment of low-in­come stu­dents does not de­crease.

Many col­leges/uni­ver­si­ties still re­quire a col­lege-re­portable test score for ad­mis­sion, and the SAT is re­quired to earn an Illi­nois high school diploma. If the as­sess­ment is optional and is not free, it cre­ates a bar­rier for low-in­come and mi­nor­ity stu­dents.

Stu­dent growth/fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits: Stu­dents in grades 8 to 11 take ex­ams through the Col­lege Board’s SAT Suite of As­sess­ments, which are aligned with the Illi­nois Learn­ing Stan­dards and pro­vide a met­ric to mea­sure stu­dent growth. If the SAT is optional, we could lose this valu­able tool. The SAT Suite also con­nects stu­dents with col­lege ap­pli­ca­tion fee waivers and pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to earn schol­ar­ships.

We must pro­vide equal op­por­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents, and a col­lege en­trance exam is one way to meet that goal. We value the SAT and ACT as part of the whole pic­ture of a stu­dent’s readi­ness for col­lege and ca­reers. Su­per­in­ten­dents Scott J. Hel­ton, DuPage High School Dis­trict 88; David F. Lar­son, Glen­bard Town­ship High School Dis­trict 87; Kevin Carey, Com­mu­nity Unit School Dis­trict 201; Moses Cheng, Com­mu­nity High School Dis­trict 94

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