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Illinois to delay free SAT to fall for Class of 2021

Illinois will delay its free administration of the SAT college entrance exam from spring to fall, the state’s deputy governor said today. 

Illinois is one of more than a dozen states that sponsors a statewide sitting of a college entrance exam for every junior, and it typically does so in March. About a million students across the country were scheduled to take the SAT last month but could not sit for the exam because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the College Board, the organization that administers the test. 

Starting in August, the College Board will offer weekend testing every month through the end of the year, executives said Wednesday.

Scores from the SAT are a central part of the college admissions process for many students. The test also factors into many scholarship applications. In Illinois, SAT scores also critically undergird two school quality rating systems: the state’s and Chicago’s. School ratings have been suspended due to the governor’s emergency order for this school year. 

If schools don’t reopen in the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic, the College Board will debut an at-home, remotely proctored exam, said the company CEO, David Coleman.

Coleman stressed in a call with reporters that he was committed to making the SAT as widely available to students as possible, but acknowledged that the College Board faces difficult decisions this year. 

“Transparency is more important now than ever, so our first principle for the SAT, and all of our work, must be to keep students safe,” Coleman said. While the College Board will cancel the spring and early summer administration of the test, the plan is to continue its widespread use.

He said that, besides stepping up the frequency of the test, the organization is in discussions with colleges about other options besides for the SAT for college admissions.

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

Jesse Ruiz, deputy governor for education for Illinois, said that the state’s free SAT administration is the only opportunity for some low-income students to take the exam. “We want to make sure every one of our students graduates with this as an option.” 

The College Board is experimenting with remote proctoring of exams this spring with the Advanced Placement exams that high school students can take to earn college credit. 

Illinois has a nearly $60 million, three-year contract with the College Board to provide SAT tests for juniors and the PSAT for ninth and 10th graders.