Bill to remove SAT transcript requirement passes Ill. Senate

Brandt Siegfried, Reporter

The Illinois Senate approved Senate Bill 757 (SB 757) on May 3 by a vote of 54-0. This bill eliminates the reporting of high school student SAT scores on official transcripts, allowing students to choose which scores colleges can see.

SB 757 is sponsored by Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield), who was acting in the interest of constituent parents. The changes are motivated by the requirement to report students’ district SAT score following Illinois’ conversion from ACT to SAT. Federal law currently requires the reporting of whether or not students meet state standards, but the reporting of the score is an Illinois law. SB 757 is sponsored by Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) in the Illinois House, where the bill awaits a committee assignment. The bill is likely to pass due to the previous passage of similar legislation.

“The idea for this legislation was brought to Morrison by concerned parents in the district,” Legislative Assistant Jo-An Sabonjian said. “HB 2378, a bill with the same language, passed the House unanimously.”

The state previously reported college readiness using the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE), which was a graduation requirement. Student scores were reported on transcripts, but they didn’t have meaning, Director of Curriculum and Instruction Scott Eggerding said.

“In the past when we had the PSAE, [it] was basically the ACT,” Eggerding said. “Those results went on [transcripts], but it wasn’t an ACT score. It was [reported as] a state score, so colleges didn’t know what it meant. Nobody had a problem with it.”

However, now that student readiness is measured by a test that students value, the stakes have changed. The current law requires the reporting of a single SAT score regardless of whether it’s the student’s best or most recent score. The score reported must be from the test students take during school in April.

“This was the first junior class to take the SAT, [so the state hasn’t] even decided a score that would qualify for meeting or exceeding state standards,” Eggerding said. “Yet, they’re going to give the test and then figure it out.”

The state has also yet to clarify how the reporting of the scores is supposed to occur. Schools could put scores this summer, or they can potentially wait until students graduate, Eggerding said. School officials across the state are waiting for clarification.

“Maybe two things will happen by [the time the state decides],” Eggerding said. “You’ll have gotten into college, obviously, or they’ll change the rule. We’re all waiting to see what happens.”

Additionally, uncertainty clouds the reasoning behind the current process that SB 757 seeks to change.

“I understand the concept, you want to demonstrate on the transcript whether a student is college ready or not, but you could do that without a score,” Eggerding said. “We’d much rather say that you [met] standards as opposed to [a score].”

There is also little flexibility in the score that gets reported. A student can take the SAT outside of school and send it to colleges, but the transcript score has to be the one taken in school that the state pays for.

“I would say that because [the SAT is] already a test that students value, they take it seriously,” Eggerding said. “When we gave the PARCC to freshmen it didn’t count for anything, it wasn’t going to mean anything, [and] it took hours to do. A lot of students said ‘what’s the point of this’ whereas for an SAT you’re like ‘a college is going to look at this so I need to try.’”

SB 757 is an opportunity for students to have more control over their academic careers. If passed, students will have the option to choose which scores colleges see.

“I hope they make a decision that’s in the best interest of students,” Eggerding said. “A lot of No Child Left Behind Act and Every Student Succeeds Act [is] about making schools accountable, but that shouldn’t come at the expense of the student.”