Defending the SAT/ACT
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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