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College Board Discontinues SAT Subject Tests And Optional Essay

MIAMI (CBSMiami/NSF ) – The non-profit College Board is making changes to the SAT exam, as students and colleges adapt to new realities due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The board announced on Jan. 19, the immediate discontinuation of subject tests and the scrapping of optional written essays beginning in June.

"The pandemic accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to reduce and simplify demands on students," a press release detailing the changes said.

Widespread use of Advanced Placement courses --- college-level instruction in various subjects, which are also under the College Board's control --- rendered the need for SAT subject tests obsolete, the board explained.

"The expanded reach of AP and its widespread availability for low-income students and students of color means the subject tests are no longer necessary for students to show what they know," Tuesday's press release said.

Students have "other ways to demonstrate their mastery of essay writing," making essays in reading or writing and language unnecessary, the board decided.


The Florida Teachers Union supports the College Board's move.

"The SAT and other high-stakes tests do not promote real teaching and learning, which should always be our goal," Florida Education Association president Andrew Spar said in a prepared statement. "Further, we support the move by many colleges and universities to discontinue the use of high-stakes testing as an admission requirement, and to transition toward using other methods that allow students to demonstrate their readiness for the post-secondary level."

The College Board also revealed the launch of a "more flexible SAT – a streamlined, digitally delivered test that meets the evolving needs of students and higher education." However, additional details aren't expected on this until later this spring.

Taking a college entrance exam has been tough during the pandemic. Many in-person testing dates for the SAT were canceled because of social distancing needs and closed high school buildings.

Many colleges and universities, however, have made SAT test scores optional for admission. Just not in Florida.  Florida's public university system, made up of 12 colleges, is currently the only state system that requires admissions tests for applicants for fall 2021 admission.

Changing the testing requirement is up to the state university system's Board of Governors, which has so far, refused to consider making the tests optional amid the coronavirus pandemic.

(©2021 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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