After facing criticism from parents and testing advocacy groups, College Board has cancelled its plans to offer the SAT exam to students enrolled in an expensive summer program for gifted students.
“Unfortunately, this initiative proceeded without proper consideration of whether all aspects of the program were aligned with our mission,” Kathleen Steinberg, a spokeswoman for the College Board, said in a statement.
Ordinarily, the organization does not offer the exam during the summer months, with many students wanting to take it during the less stressful summer months.
However, when the organization finally offered a summer test date, it only made the exception for students enrolled in the National Society for the Gifted & Talented (NGST) University Prep program.
“Given what senior management has learned in the past few days, we informed NGST earlier today that it would be inappropriate for an official SAT administration to take place at the conclusion of the University Prep program,” Steinberg continued.
This sparked criticism that the tests were unfairly biased toward students from high-income students, as the NGST prep program costs $4,500 for the summer. Critics were quick to point out that the SAT exam was initially created to help provide equal opportunities in the college entrance process.
The announcement to cater to this expensive summer program, prompted standardized test critics, FairTest, to send a letter to the College Board lambasting the organization for neglecting low-income students in favor of high-income students.
“Granting the opportunity to take the exam outside the regular academic year and after intense SAT coaching only to an economically elite segment of the college-going population is blatantly unfair,” says the letter, delivered Monday to the College Board by FairTest and signed by Elizabeth Stone, an educational consultant in San Mateo, Calif.
In spite of their plans, to cancel the SAT exception for the NGST summer prep program, College board has stated it will still continue to explore summer SAT testing dates in the future, a move that many feel would do wonders to help their image.
“I applaud them for having recognized the error of their ways,” Robert Schaeffer, the public education director of FairTest, an opponent of the changes said to The New York Times. “It was a huge embarrassment, and the best way out of it was to admit that they were wrong and move on.”
Valerie Strauss explained in a blog post for The Washington Post that College Board should use this opportunity to introduce summer programs for low-income students to prepare and take the SAT exam.
“This is how the College Board can make some lemonade out of the lemons it produced with this episode,” Strauss wrote. “It could quickly set several pilot programs in which students from every socioeconomic background can take the test in the summer in different places around the country.”
This leaves many students and educators hoping that they may soon be able to take the SAT during the summer, with many willing to welcome such a change.
“My students would be thrilled to have the option of taking it in the summer," Janet Rosier, an independent consultant in Woodbridge, Conn. said to USA Today. “There's no question the summer is less hectic.”
Jillian Reed is a writer for 360 Education Solutions