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More SAT tests to be offered in fall, including at home if needed

Details are still being worked out for high school seniors seeking scores for Bright Futures scholarships.
More than 700,000 high school students nationwide had their SAT tests canceled in the spring because of COVID-19. The College Board has announced plans to make sure next year's seniors will have chances to take the college entry exam. [Joe Raedle/Getty Images/TNS]
More than 700,000 high school students nationwide had their SAT tests canceled in the spring because of COVID-19. The College Board has announced plans to make sure next year's seniors will have chances to take the college entry exam. [Joe Raedle/Getty Images/TNS] [ JOE RAEDLE | Getty Images/TNS ]
Published Apr. 15, 2020
Updated Apr. 16, 2020

Noting that nearly 1 million students nationwide missed a scheduled SAT test this spring because of COVID-19, the College Board on Wednesday announced its plan to ensure greater access to the college entry exam in the coming months.

The approach includes school-day administrations rescheduled into the fall, an added September testing date and, if necessary, a digital SAT at home.

The group also said it has canceled the June 6 test.

“Encouraging students to gather in person in June would not be safe for them, their families or the adults involved,” College Board chairman David Coleman said during a telephone call with reporters. “There are things more important than tests.”

At the same time, Coleman acknowledged, the SAT serves as a gateway for many students to consider getting an education beyond high school, and the College Board does not want to hinder that opportunity.

“We are ready to make the summer, fall and winter administrations the largest in our history,” he said.

The decision might not help Florida high school seniors who had hoped to improve their SAT score to earn a Bright Futures Scholarship in the fall. One of the criteria for that award, which covers some or all of a student’s tuition at a state university, is an SAT score of at least 1290.

That number increases to 1330 for the Class of 2021 and beyond.

Some district officials asked K-12 chancellor Jacob Oliva on Tuesday about the status of the scholarship requirements for seniors, given the current situation. He told them the details remained in flux.

College Board vice president Priscilla Rodriguez confirmed that the topic is under review.

“Our team is in very close contact with the state of Florida and the large districts on this issue,” Rodriguez said, promising more information at a later date. “We thought really carefully and deeply about the impact on the Class of 2020.”

Other uses of the SAT for Florida’s senior class will not come into play, as the state has waived those requirements. Seniors who might have sought concordant scores to substitute for the Algebra I end-of-course exam and the 10th-grade language arts assessment no longer have to do so.

Any senior who has met the credit and grade-point requirements for a standard diploma will get them, even without the test scores, because the tests are not available, Oliva said Tuesday.

Those waivers do not apply to non-seniors, though. The state has begun planning when other students will be able to sit for their state exams, including Algebra I in July.

Related: See this state Power Point for more details on test changes because of coronavirus.

Coleman said students should be able to register for the added SAT exams in May, and those students who missed a scheduled test because of cancellations will get top priority. He added that the College Board has called on schools, colleges and universities to make space available for what he expected to be an unprecedented number of test takers.

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At the same time, he said, the College Board is making preparations in case it must offer an at-home SAT. That includes ensuring the security of the exam through a remote proctoring system, and working to provide needy students the technology to take the test. Remote proctoring involves allowing an outside person to access your computer camera and microphone, to monitor for cheating.

For AP exams, which College Board also runs, more than 8,000 students have received technology assistance for the at-home exams scheduled for May, Coleman said. The goal is to build upon that program, he said.

Related: High schoolers will take their AP exams at home, College Board says

Questions quickly emerged about how colleges and universities will view any of these tests taken at home.

Kristina Wong Davis, vice provost of Purdue University, said from her perspective the exams will continue to provide one of many ways to demonstrate a student’s knowledge.

“The tests are not a standalone measure on which we base any admission decision,” she said. But they can offer an “invaluable” piece of information, in the proper context, when assessing an application.

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