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Illinois college counselors to state: Call off SAT graduation requirement

A group of students take a test in a classroom with a teacher walking by.
A group representing college admissions counselors is calling on Illinois to suspend its SAT graduation requirement.
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Illinois college counselors are calling on the state to immediately suspend a requirement that high school seniors take the SAT to graduate this year.

Seniors need to take the exam in-person at school either this fall or in the spring — even if they have previously taken it elsewhere. Some parents and others told Chalkbeat last week that they believe the mandate exposes students to unnecessary risk, especially at a time when most colleges and universities have at least temporarily stopped requiring standardized test scores for admission.

The Illinois Association of College Admission Counseling echoed those concerns as it advocated for waiving the requirement.

“Public school districts around the State of Illinois have been allowed to make decisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic based on what makes sense for them,” said Megan O’Rourke, the group’s president. “Mandating an in-person exam at a time when many districts have opted for remote learning unnecessarily places students, faculty, and communities at risk.”

This year’s seniors were first slated to take the SAT to meet that state mandate as juniors last spring, but the test was canceled amid the pandemic. Some students in Chicago and elsewhere will sit for the test later this week, with additional dates coming in October and April.

The college counselors’ group pointed to the test-optional movement and the momentum it has gained since the coronavirus outbreak started. According to the advocacy group FairTest, more than 1,600 post-secondary institutions have adopted test optional policies. In addition, 544 institutions, including many Illinois public and private universities, have signed on to the National Association of College Admission Counseling’s pledge that they would not penalize students who choose not to submit SAT or ACT scores.

Illinois’ state school board is trying to decide whether to press ahead with its usual slate of standardized tests. The Trump administration has said that it is unlikely to issue waivers to allow states to skirt spring testing in 2021. The board last week said it will delay its decision until after the November presidential election.

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