The College Post
The College Post -- Covering Higher Education in America

Higher Ed Goes ACT/SAT-Optional Due to COVID-19 – But Not in Florida

As the pandemic has made it difficult for students to take SAT or ACT tests, colleges and universities across the country have waived the requirement for admissions.

However, the state of Florida has resisted relaxing the rules. The effects on its school system are clear. Fall applications to all 12 campuses within the Florida state university system are way down, up to 50 percent of last year.

Ally Schneider, chair of the Florida Student Association and a student at the University of North Florida, suggested test-optional admissions to her fellow board members last month. However, the board has not taken action.

Bob Schaeffer, interim executive director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, expressed his bewilderment over the state’s refusal to change policy.

“It becomes more and more bizarre that Florida continues to hold out. Florida is the only state in the country where all of the state’s universities are insisting on test scores. There are no visible signs of movement,” he told the Miami Herald.

Colleges and universities that refuse to waive test requirements are not just at risk of losing tens of thousands of students, but also run the risk of creating a disparate impact. This refers to a test or tool that appears neutral but actually has an adverse effect on a particular protected class of individuals, especially in low-income and minority communities that have been hit hard by the socioeconomic effects of the pandemic.

Attendance for SAT and ACT Tests

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) highlighted several variables that could affect attendance for SAT and ACT tests. This includes cost to students, families, and high schools, inequity in access and outcomes, and over-reliance on secondary schools as the means of administration.

“Inequalities caused by COVID-19 disruption —  loss of family income, secondary school closures, interruptions in the K-12 educational program — will worsen an already difficult situation for millions of students,” the NACAC wrote.

The latest SAT attendance rates indicate that students are indeed facing difficulties in taking the tests.

Out of 312,000 students registered for the SAT and SAT Subject tests on November 7, 30 percent (96,000) could not take the test because of limits on testing centers or closings.