Mandatory SAT is unjust amidst on-going pandemic

Staff Editorial

Every year, out of 3.5 million students graduating from high school, 2.2 million take the SAT.  In Connecticut alone, roughly 160,000 students are mandated to take the SAT in order to graduate each year. 

With the standardization of the test being implied, not all students are eligible to get accommodations that may otherwise help them be more successful on the test. Of course students with proper educational documentation are offered particular accommodations, many students in general would benefit from a more individualized exam to demonstrate their true knowledge and learning. 

In March of 2020 amidst the start of the COVID-19 panic, CollegeBoard cancelled millions of junior and senior SAT sessions, many of these test dates being in-school with fees handled by the town.  This puts yet another responsibility on the plates of already busy upperclassmen, forcing them to take additional time to schedule and study for the SAT, something they would have previously been available in school.

Despite this, the SAT continues to be mandated for graduation in Connecticut.  Many students in underprivileged areas suffered from illegitimate contact with their schools from March to the end of the 2019-2020 school year. These same students are still expected to perform at the same level as previous graduates who had the privilege of consistent education and interaction with schools for all 4 years of high school.  

This is also true for other students, as teachers were tasked with creating virtual learning models with little to no time at all, which still created a disconnect between students and their education. The lack of interaction from teachers to students in the first three months of the pandemic made it difficult to maintain the same level of learning despite best efforts. While teachers do not necessarily teach “SAT” in classes, it is arguable that the skills in reading, math,and writing that are taught within classroom curricula could be transferred to the SAT. Thus, the pandemic did little to aid students in any way that could have potentially helped them with the SAT. 

The pandemic further placed inequities on families from lower income homes who may have parents working multiple jobs, forcing older siblings to care for younger siblings during quarantine. This puts them at an unfair disadvantage compared to students from more affluent areas who are more likely to be able to focus solely on their education. 

While many schools are going test optional, it does not alleviate the pressure that some students feel to do well on the test or diminish the expectations some parents may have for their kids. Therefore, the expectation that the state has for students to take the SAT is not only unreasonable, it is unjust.