Although the state of Illinois has provisionally accepted a bid to adopt the SAT exam as part of state mandated testing, both Riverside Brookfield High School and Lyons Township High are still planning to give the ACT test to juniors for no charge this spring.
“It’s my understanding that despite the state making that decision they’re not going to be offering an SAT or an ACT this year because it’s not a part of the budget, so we will be paying to give all of our students an ACT in April,” said Scott Eggerding, director of Curriculum and Instruction at Lyons Township High School.
RB Principal Kristin Smetana said that RB will also once again give its juniors the ACT exam this spring for free.
“We’re still planning on giving the ACT next spring,” Smetana confirmed.
The state of Illinois accepted a bid of $14.3 million for a three-year agreement with the College Board, which develops the SAT, to provide the SAT to Illinois high school juniors as part of state-mandated testing, but the ACT has filed a formal protest challenging that decision. The bid from the College Board was $1.37 million less than the bid from ACT according to published reports.
A spokeswoman for the Illinois State Board of Education said the state Chief Procurement Officer’s Office will look into the merits of the protest so no final decision has been made.
For 15 years, until last year, the state had administered a free ACT exam as part of the Illinois Scholastic Achievement Test (ISAT), given to all public high school juniors in the state.
The SAT and ACT have long been rivals in the college entrance exam business with the ACT now having the edge nationwide. Last year 1.92 million students took the ACT while 1.7 million students took the SAT. Some students take both tests.
The SAT has traditionally been stronger on the east coast while Iowa City-based ACT has dominated in Illinois and the rest of the Midwest. Traditionally, the SAT has been seen as a test that emphasizes critical thinking while the ACT has focused more on subject knowledge. However, the SAT is being redesigned this year and the revamped exam that will be unveiled in March is expected to be more similar to the ACT.
Most colleges accept either ACT or SAT scores from applicants.
Local high schools have focused much of their coursework and test preparation on the ACT so they are not anxious to switch tests.
“We’ve done so much to align to the ACT and our students are already in the pipeline for taking practice ACTs, that I’m sure no matter what happens we’ll have to give both tests for a while until we know more about what the SAT is about,” Eggerding said. “The new SAT that’s being given this spring is brand new. No one even knows what it is, so it’s kind of not fair to students who have been expecting one thing and are now are being told about another.”
Last year only 60 of approximately 1,000 LT juniors took the SAT. At RB, 37 students took the SAT last year.
However many high school sophomores take the PSAT test, which is used to determine eligibility for National Merit Scholarships. The College Board also administers Advanced Placement tests.