College Board scraps plan for online SAT after disastrous online AP exams

The College Board had planned to offer an at-home version of the SAT exam, but has chosen not to continue with those plans.

As colleges change their admissions processes during the pandemic, standardized testing has become less of a priority.

The College Board announced Tuesday that SAT exams will not be offered online as originally planned. 

“Earlier this spring we decided to pursue a digital remote-proctored version of our physical SAT to ensure all students had an opportunity to test, in the unlikely event that schools would still be closed in the fall,” the College Board writes. “However, after gathering more understanding and evidence over the past weeks and months, we have decided to delay an at-home digital SAT.” 

Reasons provided for the change in plans include issues of accessibility -- “An at-home SAT would require three hours of uninterrupted, video-quality internet which cannot be guaranteed for all students” -- and accommodation: “We do not want to introduce the stress of extended at-home testing in this already disrupted admissions season.”

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The College Board asks colleges to be flexible by taking scores as late as they can, giving equal consideration to students who aren’t able to take the exams, and acknowledging that those who do submit haven’t had the opportunity to test more than once. 

”We know demand is very high and the registration process for students and families under this kind of pressure is extremely stressful,” said College Board CEO David Coleman. “There are more important things than tests right now. In making these difficult decisions we focused on reducing the anxiety that students and families are experiencing this year.”

This decision follows the disaster of AP testing offered online by the College Board; thousands of students tried to submit exams only to be confronted with technological difficulties. 

Students who could not turn in the exams filed a lawsuit against the College Board in May. 

The place of SATs in the college admissions process has been repeatedly debated in recent months as the pandemic forces schools to modify standard protocols. The University of California has already removed the requirement for students to submit SAT scores for the fall of 2021, and UC President Janet Napolitano has proposed suspending the use of standardized testing in admissions until 2024. 

[RELATED: Colleges nationwide suspend ACT/SAT admissions requirements]

Elizabeth Currid-Halkett, a professor of public policy at the University of Southern California, argues in a New York Times op-ed that standardized tests level the academic playing field. 

“Consider that good grades from a struggling public school in Mississippi could be discounted by admissions officers and scholarship committees compared with good grades coming from an elite private or public magnet school that offers AP courses and an honors curriculum,” she writes. “These generalized, unfair distinctions, which are often a result of socioeconomic biases, can often be overcome by the counterweight of strong standardized test scores from students in public schools perceived as middling or underperforming.” 

A Forbes article counters her claim, arguing that “no portion of a college application will be fair when considered from a socioeconomic perspective, particularly not standardized tests” and “deeply ingrained socioeconomic inequalities lay much deeper in the fabric of the modern world than any new admissions exam or modified SAT can make up for.” 

“The SAT should become a thing of the past,” concludes the article. 

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