If you are a high school teacher or guidance counselor, you know that a growing number of American colleges and universities have temporarily or permanently ended the requirement for applicants to take the SAT or ACT exam.
Will the test requirement for applicants go away permanently? No one knows for certain, but it could. In addition to the growing list of colleges that do not require the tests, the organizations that administer them are losing money.
“America’s Standardized-Testing Giants Are Losing Money Fast,” an article by Dan Bauman and Eric Hoover in The Chronicle of Higher Education on October 22, 2021, reports the following:
- The revenues generated by ACT Inc. declined by nearly $100 million during the fiscal year that ended on August 31, 2020. And that was before the pandemic’s full force hit.
- At the College Board, which oversees the SAT and other exams, revenue in 2020 fell by $286 million compared to 2019. According to the article in The Chronicle, the College Board is expecting an ongoing decline in revenues and “potential future liquidity concerns.”
Has the Number of Test-Takers Declined?
According to Inside Higher Ed, 700,000 fewer members of the high school class of 2021 took the SAT than did members of the class of 2020.
And according to data reported in Forbes, the number of high school seniors who took the ACT in 2021 had declined 20% from the previous year.
So, Are Standardized Tests Going Away?
Although test requirements and test participation are both dropping, we do not expect standardized tests to vanish, for reasons that include:
- The organizations that provide the tests are run by resourceful people who will continue to advocate for their products. They will certainly not go quietly away.
- Colleges continue to press the argument that even though the tests may be unfair, especially to certain groups of students, they nonetheless offer a way to compare and judge applicants.
- Some students and their families will remain loyal to the tests because they believe that taking them, and scoring well, provides an advantage in getting admitted to colleges.
Educators, What to Do?
If you are an educator, should you encourage your students to take the ACT and SAT, or not to?
In many cases, that question will be answered, depending on whether your students are applying to test-optional colleges or not. In other cases, students and their families will make up their own minds about whether or not to take the tests.
It can be helpful to have your high school or school system draft a set of policies to follow regarding standardized testing – not for students or families to follow, but your own teachers, counselors and administrators.
Even though you and your colleagues cannot be all-knowing, you can still deliver a consistent message across all communication channels with students and families.