Making the case for college admissions tests

July 10, 2019
sbac, smarter balanced, CAASPP, common core

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In recent years, there has been a lively debate in California about whether to allow school districts to replace the 11th grade Smarter Balanced assessments that students take each spring with the SAT or ACT.

Some school district leaders have argued that doing so would reduce test fatigue for 11th graders, many of whom are also taking AP and college admissions tests. Giving students more opportunities to take the test, they argue, will also better prepare students to gain admission to colleges of their choice. Others have opposed the move on a number of grounds, including that college admissions tests are not as well aligned to the state’s academic standards.

Assembly Bill 751,which is making its way through the Legislature, would allow school districts to administer a college admissions test instead of the Smarter Balanced math and English language arts tests to their high-school juniors. It would require the state to cover the cost of administering the test up to the amount it would cover for Smarter Balanced administration and to report out the test results in the same way it reports the Smarter Balanced results.

A recent commentary opposing that legislation brought us three rebuttals seeking to make the case for colleges tests, each offering a different perspective:

Yoon Choi of CollegeSpring, a nonprofit that works to provide SAT and ACT test preparation to low-income students, says the quantitative nature of the SAT and ACT offers a unique opportunity to increase equity in college admissions, if we can level the playing field by providing access to test preparation for every high school student.

Cynthia Schmeiser of The College Board, which owns and administers the SAT, explains that the new SAT is very different from the old aptitude approach used to develop the SAT 100 years ago.

And Wayne Camara of the ACT argues that using the ACT or SAT for accountability has enabled other states to reduce testing time and facilitates comparisons with students nationally. He also seeks to dispel other misapprehensions about the college tests.

You can read their commentaries below.

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