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College Board Scraps Plans for SAT at Home

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The College Board said on Tuesday that it would postpone plans to offer an online version of the SAT for high school students to take at home this year, further muddying a ritual of the college application process that had already been thrown into chaos by the coronavirus.

After canceling test dates this spring, the board announced in mid-April that it was developing a digital version of the SAT to be introduced if the pandemic continued to require social distancing in the fall, which would make it hard for the nonprofit organization to provide enough testing dates and centers.

But in its latest statement, the board said the technological challenges of developing an online test that all students could take had led to the decision to drop it. Some 2.2 million students took the SAT last year, the College Board said.

“Taking it would require three hours of uninterrupted, video-quality internet for each student, which can’t be guaranteed for all,” the board said, acknowledging the technology gap facing lower-income students, which could further exacerbate inequities in access to higher education.

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The organization added that it would continue to deliver an online version of the SAT at some schools, but would not “introduce the stress that could result from extended at-home testing in an already disrupted admissions season.”

Bob Schaeffer, the head of FairTest, which is opposed to the use of standardized tests in college admissions, said the College Board was “simply conceding the inevitable.”

Its decision came after the organization had a rocky experience last month introducing a digital version of the Advanced Placement exams, which it also administers. Many students complained that they were not able to submit their answer sheets electronically, and their tests were disqualified.

Mr. Schaeffer’s group and several students and parents have filed a class-action lawsuit seeking to force the College Board to score the rejected answer sheets. The College Board said less than 1 percent of students who had taken the test were affected.

The College Board asked colleges and universities on Tuesday to “show flexibility” to the millions of students who were not able to take the SAT this spring because of cancellations. It asked colleges to extend deadlines for receiving test scores, and to give equal consideration to students who were unable to take the test because of the pandemic.

The SAT’s rival exam, the ACT, said on Tuesday that it still planned to offer a remote option in the fall.

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Over the last few years, the College Board has been fighting a movement to persuade colleges to drop the SAT and the ACT entirely, with opponents arguing that they are biased along racial and income lines.

That movement has accelerated during the pandemic, with more than 1,200 schools now making the tests optional. In the biggest recent blow, the 300,000-student University of California system decided last month to phase out the SAT and the ACT at its 10 schools, which include some of the most sought-after in the country.

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