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Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:

As we continue to work with you to navigate the uncertainty of fall test administrations of the ACT and the SAT, many questions about these tests—in particular, their accessibility—are being raised. While we focus principally on the instructional value of standardized tests, there’s no denying these issues, which reveal the operational burden the administration of these tests places on schools.

The Operational Burden on Schools
Schools are responsible for serving as test centers for either their own students or their own students and any other students who register. Administrative staff in the schools are responsible for organizing, planning, staffing, proctoring, ensuring compliant conditions, gathering, and mailing in all forms.

One of the reasons for the recent breakdown in the planning, scheduling, and administration of the ACT and the SAT is this dependency, which has placed a massive burden on schools to consider – during a pandemic – how to balance priorities of access to testing for students along with student and staff safety.

Effects on Accessibility
Many high schools are attempting to provide opportunities students want to test, but conditions are changing fast, often leading to late-breaking site closures or reduced seats. We’re also seeing schools offer new school day options for both SAT and ACT. Some schools have also opted to become “unlisted” test sites, offering national test days only to students enrolled at the school (while ACT scrambles to create more “pop-up” test sites to add seats this fall).

Understanding the Root Causes & Navigating Ahead
A thoughtful Chronicle of Higher Education article explores this particular issue with standardized testing: the operational dependency on schools for access to the test. This dependency in turn promotes inequities in access and demands resources from schools. This issue is at the root of some of the disorder and confusion we have seen, and we will continue to see, as we attempt to navigate the road ahead. We’ll keep families up to date on trends and options for access to testing. We also recommend that families speak to their school administration about whether or not they will be offering a test for students.

Be well,
Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

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