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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

SAT/ACT may replace state test in California

California may let schools replace 11th-grade Smarter Balanced tests with the SAT or ACT, reports CALmatters’ Felicia Mello.

That might encourage college-going, but erode accountability for the state’s high schools.

Image result for long beach unified sat testing

More than 30 California districts offer a college admission test for free during the school day, to encourage students to apply to college. Some offer test-prep help as well.

But they’re also required to give 11th graders the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced test.

Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, has introduced a bill to let school districts “use the funds they already spend on standardized testing to subsidize college entrance exams, as long as they offer them free to all students and make accommodations for English language learners and students with disabilities,” writes Mello.

In a letter to the state Board of Education last year, Long Beach Superintendent Christopher Steinhauser asked for “relief from unnecessary, duplicative testing.” The SAT, he argued, was far more relevant to college admissions. Removing the Smarter Balanced tests would give students more time to focus on it and the Advanced Placement exams that also factor into colleges’ decisions. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and board President Michael Kirst disagreed. The SAT had not been reviewed to ensure it reflected Common Core standards, they wrote in a response. It “is not designed to measure the lower end of the spectrum well” and could disadvantage English language learners and students with disabilities. Request denied.

If districts are giving different tests, it will be hard to compare student performance, writes Mello.

Taking the SAT or ACT is a graduation requirement in some states. When Michigan required students to take the ACT, many more low-income students took the test, researcher Joshua Hyman found. The policy revealed “a hidden group of high-achieving students” who hadn’t been aiming for selective colleges.

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