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Illinois education officials opt for state high school assessment instead of SAT

Illinois education officials opt for state high school assessment instead of SAT

Illinois education officials opt for state high school assessment instead of SAT

When Illinois high school students take their annual state assessments next year, they will take the ACT instead of the SAT, as they have in recent years.

Both standardized tests measure mastery of core subjects such as English language arts and math, and both are commonly used for scholarship applications and college admissions, although many colleges have stopped requiring them.

The Illinois State Board of Education also uses them as part of the battery of tests that schools administer each year to meet federal mandates under the Every Student Succeeds Act. The results of those tests are reported each year on the Illinois Report Card and are used to hold schools and school districts accountable for meeting core academic standards.

Illinois began using the SAT Essay as its state assessment for 11th grade students in spring 2017. Two years later, it began using the PSAT 8/9 for ninth graders and the PSAT 10 for high school sophomores.

The addition of a college entrance exam to the state’s annual assessment program was seen as an advantage because it gave nearly all high school graduates a reportable, state-paid score that they could also use for college and scholarship applications.

However, in recent years, many colleges and universities have stopped requiring the SAT or ACT as part of their application and admissions processes.

In 2021, Illinois lawmakers passed the Fair Admissions to Higher Education Act, which requires all public universities and community colleges to adopt a “test-optional” policy for admissions, meaning students can voluntarily choose whether to include them in their application package. But the state board continued to use the tests as part of its federally mandated state assessments.

The switch to the ACT came as the agency’s contract with the College Board, the nonprofit that operates the SAT, was set to expire on June 30. The state agency decided to open the bidding process and solicit sealed proposals from testing companies. The decision to award a six-year, $53 million contract to ACT was finalized in May. Students will take the new test in spring 2025.

According to the state agency, one of the advantages of changing the exam is that the ACT includes a science component, while the SAT covers only the core subjects of reading, writing and math. That means high school juniors no longer have to take a separate Illinois science assessment, which cuts down on testing time.

The change also means that students who still want to take the SAT or PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test will have to do so on their own. The state will not pay for those tests.