College & Workforce Readiness

Florida, Colorado, Make Moves to Replace State Tests With ACT, SAT

By Catherine Gewertz — January 14, 2016 1 min read
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CORRECTED In the face of backlash from teachers and students, Colorado has decided to wait a year before making a full switch from the ACT college entrance exam to the SAT.

The move, announced by the state department of education on Monday, allows Colorado students to take the ACT in the 2015-16 school year, as they have for many years. In 2016-17, the state will use only the SAT. Colorado is one of eight states that have permission to use a college-entrance exam for federal accountability, a move that comes with some big caveats. (Our story about this listed seven states, but Montana got permission, too.)

Colorado had decided in late December to use the SAT instead of the ACT. The College Board also counts Michigan and Illinois as recent converts from the ACT.

Colorado also belongs to another, larger trend: the growing list of states that are dumping PARCC or Smarter Balanced at the high school level—in some or all grades—in favor of the SAT or ACT. Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, and New Hampshire also belong to that group.

Florida used its own tests, the Florida Standards Assessments, last year, but now it’s considering dumping that test in high school and letting students take the ACT or SAT instead.

The Miami Herald reports that Republican state Sen. Don Gaetz filed a bill Jan. 5 that would let students take either of those college-entrance exams instead of the FSA, beginning in the 2016-17 school year. Each district could choose which tests to make available, in addition to the FSA, which would remain in all districts as an option.

The legislation, SB1360, says students can use “rigorous alternative assessments,” and it allows those options for students as young as 3rd grade. Options include ACT Aspire for grades 3-8. In high school, the PSAT, SAT, and Advanced Placement exams would be options, along with industry certifications.

An earlier version of this post reported that Colorado students could take the ACT or the SAT in 2015-16. They will take only the ACT. Colorado will use the SAT in 2016-17.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the High School & Beyond blog.