The College Board is adapting and rescheduling standardized testing for high school students in Champaign-Urbana and beyond
So much about our children’s education is being turned upside down right now because of the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. We’ve heard a lot about college students being sent home to continue their studies online (we miss you already, U of I students!). High school seniors everywhere are wondering if their entire K-12 careers have unexpectedly ended before that last big project, game, concert, meet, performance or trip — and potentially even without a graduation ceremony. Everything seems to be suspended.
But what about the SAT?
For those high school students who envision college as part of their future, they (or their parents) are just now realizing that this spring’s SAT, ACT, and AP Exams will not escape this general upheaval.
Here is the most recent information from the College Board, which administers AP Exams as well as the SAT, and from the nonprofit agency that administers the ACT.
Over a million high school students nationwide take Advanced Placement (AP) Exams in order to demonstrate their mastery of course material to the colleges in which they will enroll. Many colleges use AP test results to make placement decisions, and some colleges even award college credit. In 2020 most exams were scheduled to take place during the first two weeks of May.
On March 20 the College Board released updated information about their current plans for AP Exams. They say they are developing “secure 45-minute online free-response exams for each course” to be taken at home, with the promise of helping every student access wi-fi or an appropriate device. (Note that the traditional AP exams run several hours each. It is not yet clear how portfolio-based evaluations, such as those for AP Art, will be handled.) These shortened exams will be weighted toward the material that students should have covered in their classes before the beginning of March.
The College Board will also make available free AP review sessions starting on Wednesday, March 25, that can be watched on-demand. While these review sessions will emphasize the first 75 percent of course material, they will also address the final 25 percent of the curriculum. Schedules and broad lesson topics for the first several review sessions in each course are already available online.
Unit 4’s two high schools offered 22 AP courses in 2019-20, some with more than one section; Urbana High School offered 17 AP courses. Hundreds of students just from those two local school districts have registered for more than 1,000 AP Exams. A lot of college credit, and potential tuition dollars for families, rides on these decisions by the College Board.
Finally, a few logistical points:
- The College Board promises refunds to students who want to withdraw from an AP Exam.
- They plan to offer at least two possible testing dates, one of which will likely be sooner than May since students may want to test closer to the time they were actually in school.
- They offer the reassurance that this is not new territory for the College Board. Apparently some colleges have accepted a shortened AP Exam for college credit when localized groups of students experienced emergencies. Sounds like “we’ve seen almost everything, so we know how to cover almost anything,” to quote a certain insurance commercial.
On March 16 the College Board cancelled the SAT administration scheduled for May 2. They are offering refunds, along with a promise to schedule additional testing dates in the future. Makeup exams for the March 14 administration (scheduled for March 28) are also canceled. The College Board has not yet announced how it will address weekday school-based administrations this spring of the SAT, PSAT 10, and PSAT 8/9, which is how most Illinois public school students prepare for and take the SAT.
Also as of March 16, ACT has rescheduled its April 4 national test date to June 13. Students registered for the April 4 test will be contacted individually and offered to be rescheduled to June 13 or another date in the future.
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