College Board has taken quite a hit in recent months. With over 1,200 colleges “test-optional” — including schools in the extremely coveted University of California system — College Board is fighting to market their SAT as equitable and accessible. The coronavirus pandemic canceled many SAT testing dates throughout the country. To redress these missed opportunities, the College Board had planned for an online version of their SAT. This version could have been taken at home, in case the pandemic hindered future testing dates/accessibility.
While College Board had good intentions, the organization eventually realized that an online test would place a heavy technological burden on students — in particular, lower-income students who may not have the access to steady internet with large bandwidth. Therefore, the nonprofit dropped its plans.
“Taking it would require three hours of uninterrupted, video-quality internet for each student, which can’t be guaranteed for all,” said College Board.
This decision likely stemmed from the trouble many students faced while taking their 45-minute Advanced Placement online exams — other standardized tests run by College Board. Advanced Placement tests are the capstone of the college-level courses taken by high-school students. Good scores on these tests can be used to potentially “place-out” of introductory college courses, or they can be included towards a student’s total college credit count. These tests are an important mark of students’ hard work throughout the year. The pandemic caused this year’s exams to be online, which had never been done before.
However, these Advanced Placement exams frustrated many students, as technological difficulties (on the end of College Board as well) occluded their completed tests from being scored. Many students are now forced to take make-up exams in June 2020. The technological difficulties caused so much frustration that a class-action lawsuit has now been filed against College Board. The lawsuit seeks for the rejected submitted answers to be scored.
2.2 million students took the SAT last year, and offering an online testing plan would only add more stress to “an already disrupted admissions season”. College Board is now urging schools not to penalize students who have not had the opportunity to take the SAT (or have only taken it once) and to account for the chaos the coronavirus pandemic has unleashed on academia. Also, requiring such advanced technology for a standardized test would only prove to be another barrier lower-income students face in their pursuit of higher education.
To help reduce the anxiety high school students and families are facing this year, we’re asking colleges to provide flexibility during their upcoming admissions season in these ways. https://t.co/H3r8cPIO7W pic.twitter.com/AV4pSDdAc9
— The College Board (@CollegeBoard) June 3, 2020
It is worth noting that the College Board’s rival testing organization, the ACT, still plans to offer an online test this Fall.