The state's switch to the College Board's SAT as the required exam for Illinois high school juniors has generated some test anxiety among parents who would rather the scores not appear on the transcripts sent to colleges and universities.
Responding to constituents' appeals, two north suburban lawmakers introduced legislation earlier this year to change the mandate that scores from the state-required SAT appear on student transcripts. Senate Bill 757 sponsored by State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) passed the unanimously May 3 on a 54-0 vote.
"I heard concerns from several different communities in my district, both Cook and Lake County communities," Morrison said. "People called and were concerned about the SAT scores from tests given on that particular day appearing on the transcript."
Morrison said some of the concern stemmed from the early timing of the test, which is given in April of junior year. Students have multiple options for taking either the SAT or the ACT on a Saturday testing date during the fall of their senior year for college purposes.
State law currently requires that "scores attained by a student on the state assessment that includes a college and career readiness determination must be placed in the student's permanent record and must be entered on a student's transcript."
Morrison said she contacted the State Board of Education before moving forward. The bill originally would have allowed a parent or guardian to request that the scores be taken off the transcript, but the measure was amended to eliminate the requirement the scores appear on the transcript.
"Now a test score will not appear on the transcript unless a parent requests that it be there," Morrison said. "If your student does really well on the SAT, you can ask that it be part of the transcript. This makes it a little bit easier."
State Board of Education spokesperson Jackie Matthews said the agency is neutral on the bill as amended.
Beth Sosler, a Highland Park High School parent, said public school students in Illinois should have the same control over which test results are sent to colleges as students in other states or who attend private school.
"Those students are applying to the same schools as our students, so our students should have the same level of control," Sosler said. "The SAT is not the optimal test for all students, so mandating that the score be reported also adds an additional layer of stress to our students, who are already under more stress than is arguably healthy."
Morrison's bill is now set to be heard in the Illinois House, which unanimously approved a nearly identical bill sponsored by State Representative Scott Drury (D-Highwood) on March 29. Drury's bill, House Bill 2378, passed 112 to 0 and was set to be heard in the Senate Education Committee May 3, but the hearing was postponed.
Morrison said some parents who contacted her office were so concerned they planned to keep their students home on test day if that was their only option for keeping the SAT scores off the transcript.
"When you don't have kids taking the test, that really is going to skew the results," she said. "We are really trying to assess not just the child, but the school and how well we're doing educating students."
If more students are taking the test, the results will provide a more accurate picture of how schools and school districts are doing, she said.
Zachary Goldberg, senior director of media relations for the College Board, said students who take the Illinois-sponsored SAT are entitled to send those scores to four colleges at no charge. Students eligible for fee waivers are eligible to receive four additional score reports over the students' testing lifetime.
Illinois included the ACT college admissions test in its Prairie State Achievement Exam until the exam was replaced with the PARCC test in 2015. While student scores on the PSAE appeared on students' transcripts, ACT scores were not separately reported.
"The score reflected student performance on the totality of the assessment," Matthews said.
After two years of PARCC testing, the state dropped the exam at the high school level last July and announced students would take the College Board's SAT, including the writing exam, for state accountability purposes starting in 2017.
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