Colorado plans to offer high school juniors a chance to take the SAT for free on a school day next fall, the state education department said Thursday.
These students lost out on the chance to take the SAT for free this spring when schools closed and the Colorado Department of Education canceled all state assessments, amid the coronavirus pandemic. The College Board, the organization that administers the SAT, has also canceled spring testing through at least June.
While many higher education institutions are waiving test requirements in light of the unprecedented disruption caused by widespread school closures, many Colorado juniors are counting on taking the SAT to graduate from high school next year.
This year’s juniors, the class of 2021, are the first to be subject to new state graduation requirements that include demonstrating competency in key subjects. One way they can do that is by taking the SAT. Other ways include passing a college-level course, completing a capstone project, or earning an industry certificate.
Taking the SAT also helps students keep their college options open, and many scholarship organizations ask for these test scores.
“It’s important for many of our students and their families to know the state is still planning to provide them with an opportunity to take the test for free on a school day,” Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes said in a press release. “Preserving continuity in the assessment expectations and experiences is especially important now as Colorado high school students navigate the many changes brought about by the national emergency.”
State education officials said they’re pursuing an agreement with the College Board to offer the test on a school day in the fall at no cost to students. They also plan to offer vouchers to students who can’t take it on a school day and want to participate in a national testing day on a Saturday in the fall.
No date has been set for the test — and there remains some question about whether it will be safe for in-person classes to resume in the fall.
The College Board this week floated the idea of students taking the test online at home if social distancing requirements are still in place. Critics quickly pointed out this could exacerbate inequities for students whose homes don’t provide a quiet place to take the test without interruptions — and that it could invite widespread cheating.
Officials said the fall administration of the test also depends on adequate state funds being available. Colorado is expected to take a massive budget hit due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus.
The fall test will not be used to assess school performance. The Colorado Department of Education paused all school accountability measures when it canceled state testing.