Proposed California bill would let SAT replace standardized tests
Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) has introduced AB 1951, which would allow local school boards to replace the standardized tests typically given in students’ junior year with a nationally recognized college entrance exam like the SAT or ACT. The bill would 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. Students from low-income families can now take the SAT or ACT free of charge and avoid the $60 registration fee for the full test including essay, but they must obtain fee waivers from their schools. Assemblyman O’Donnell, who is a former classroom teacher who chairs the Assembly’s Education Committee, stated,
This bill is about equity and opportunity for high school students. It’s also about local control. It lets districts decide the best assessment for students.
Unfortunately, attending a school that doesn’t offer the SAT or ACT could mean traveling to an unfamiliar neighborhood on a Saturday to take it. Proponents of the bill believe that this can be burdensome for some students and AB 1951 would solve this issue. Long Beach Unified has tried once before to exempt itself from giving the Smarter Balanced tests the state currently requires for all 11th-graders, but was denied. Long Beach Superintendent Christopher Steinhauser argues that the SAT is far more relevant to college admissions than the Smarter Balanced tests and would make testing less repetitive. Over 30 districts in California will give the SAT for free during the school day this year, up from four in 2015, and those districts could be able opt out of Smarter Balanced testing if the bill is signed into law. We will have to wait and see if the bill is passed and what further research into the plan to replace the standardized tests reveals.