The College Board and Its Negligence

Your SAT test center closed or reduced capacity. See https://bit.ly/3h9XNyu for info. 

Despite the many notifications I had received prior to the August 29th SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) regarding the fact that centers could close at any point before the test, my heart dropped when this text from the College Board appeared on my phone. It was 9:18pm on August 28th. My first thought was to check the closings page [5] (which the College Board had reminded us about on numerous occasions); my test center, Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School, was not listed. It was too late to call the school or College Board to ask if certain test-takers had been removed from the list, so – although the College Board never directly told students to do so – I checked the school’s website: 

The SAT exam originally scheduled for Saturday at Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. Students who signed up to take the test should contact the College Board to request a refund or register on another date. [3]

I was shocked to see that this announcement had been posted on August 25th, realizing I had been studying and preparing for a test that had been canceled days before. I texted three friends to ask if they had received the text about the closing; two of them, David Bertuch and Alinah Marinov, had gotten the text and were as confused as I was. The text we received made it seem like the center had reduced capacity, but the school was saying they were closed. The third friend, Rebecca Kaminski, had not gotten any message concerning the closure. Once we contacted the school, they explained that they had contacted the College Board an entire week before the test to warn them of the closure, but received no response until we did. Many kids still went to Steven and Harriet Myers Middle School because they were never told about the cancelation. My friends and I were some of the dozens of kids who still showed up, hopeful that they had reduced capacity and we could get a spot. We all had to walk up to the entrance – closer than six feet – to read the message from the school taped to the door. We weren’t the only ones in this situation: only 54% of the test centers stayed open for the August test, leaving a little under half the students in the lurch. [2] 

Before I continue listing more of the College Board’s mindless mistakes, I should explain the groundbreaking changes they have been forced to make since the beginning of the pandemic. 

 AP (Advanced Placement) testing was held online [6], SATs scheduled for the spring and some summer months were canceled, and students were assured that, whether the tests would be held online or later in the year, they would have the opportunity to take it. But once signing up and taking the SAT became so difficult, many colleges announced that they would not be requiring SAT scores for admissions. University of California schools were among the first, broadcasted in the Washington Post: “[…] Caltech won’t even consider those tests in the selection of its next two entering classes. It is in the vanguard of a small but growing movement to eliminate the ACT and SAT from admission decisions.” [4]

This new approach to the application process is no reason for the College Board’s negligence; some schools still require the SAT, and many students are unsure if colleges need scores to provide financial aid. This confusion has increased stress among high schoolers, mostly seniors.

Back to my story: my second attempt to take the SAT was the September test at Guilderland High School, and the same phenomenon occurred – but this time, fellow test-takers and I were not in any way informed of the last minute changes the center made. When we arrived at the school, one check-in station was set up with about 200 kids lined up behind it (socially distanced, so the line practically reached the road). Nearly half the kids, including me, were turned away once the proctor looked at their admission ticket, telling them “they were no longer registered for the test”. 

The College Board has not only created problems for test-takers. After interviewing proctors at Amsterdam High School, Lisa Liverio expressed frustration about the compensation process. Many proctors from the October 3rd test administration were not paid or not paid correctly. She said, “Honestly, dealing with ETS/College Board has been a nightmare. We have called numerous times to get the issue straightened out and have been left on hold for sometimes as long as fifteen minutes. To this day, some proctors have not been paid for the October test.” 

The list goes on; some students who took that same test in October didn’t receive their scores on the correct day, some as late as a week later. This is inappropriate and bizarre behavior from such a large, long established and powerful organization. Their use of basic technology is agonizingly inadequate. Cancelations are completely understandable – the College Board and test centers need to keep students safe if there is any threat of an outbreak – but if they don’t notify test-takers properly and in a timely manner, there is no point of canceling. Proctors, as well as students, are putting themselves at risk when they enter any test center; the College Board should make us their top priority. 

When contacted, College Board representatives said they were “unable to comment” on this story. 

If you have experienced any problems with the organization, feel free to reach out to us to explain: amsterdamrampage@gmail.com

Sources: 

  1. More about the College Board: https://about.collegeboard.org/overview
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2020/08/18/the-august-sat-is-cancelled-for-nearly-half-of-students/?sh=44ef9b387972
  3. https://www.albanyschools.org/news/1687775/saturday-sat-cancelled#:~:text=The%20SAT%20exam%20originally%20scheduled,or%20register%20on%20another%20date.
  4. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/college-admissions-2021-sat/2020/10/03/5a6885b6-03f7-11eb-897d-3a6201d6643f_story.html
  5. https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register/test-center-closings
  6. https://ahsrampage.com/2020/11/21/online-ap-exams-mess-or-success/

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