Kentucky educators talk concerns, opportunities surrounding online SAT

Starting in 2024, the SAT will be offered only online, but will still require the test to be taken at a school or test center.

RICHMOND, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gone are the days of ‘No. 2’ pencils and getting pencil dust on your hand: the SAT will be completely online in the United States in 2024.

According to area educators, standardized test-taking has been undergoing big changes, in no small part due to the pandemic: many colleges and universities chose to make providing a standardized test score optional on admissions applications. EKU Director of Admissions Success Dan Hendrickson says that the university will continue the practice post-pandemic.

“We believe that when you’re reviewing a student’s admissibility, it’s not just about that test score, and that’s why we’ve moved to that test-optional policy,” said Hendrickson.

However, even more changes are coming with the SAT moving online. The new test will still take place at schools and test centers, but the test will be unique to each student and will allow calculators. The test will also be an hour shorter, and will be done on either the student’s or school-provided individual laptops.

The Kentucky Department of Education requires high school juniors to complete an ACT assessment. Estill County Schools Instructional Supervisor Charlotte O’Bryan says, like many other Kentucky school districts, that the majority of students in her district do not choose to take the SAT due to this requirement, unless they plan to attend college out-of-state.

“On average, we have about 30 to 40 students who take the PSAT, but from there, we have about 10 students [who take the SAT]. It just depends on what their college plans might be,” said O’Bryan.

O’Bryan says the district plans to utilize the ACT’s online option for all students for the 2022-2023 school year, and says the district provides laptops for every student it serves, making the transition to online test-taking a little easier.

“We’re very fortunate, we’re a one-to-one device district, so all of our students down to our elementary students have a device, so that won’t be an issue, that’s a barrier that we have removed so students can be successful. So when we transition to online completely, our students have their own devices that they are comfortable with,” said O’Bryan.

Tutor Olivia Smith, who owns Smith Learning Services and tutors about 30 students in Lexington, Richmond, and the surrounding area, says she is preparing about 15 students for standardized tests, including the SAT. She says the challenges to switching to online formats may even be as simple as getting students used to looking at the test on a screen.

“When you make a change like that, you have to make changes in the classroom, out of the classroom, you don’t know what those questions will look like…that in itself is going to be a whole type of preparation for students,” said Smith.

However, educators agree that the new format may make the test more accessible, as well as relevant, to students living in the information-technology era.

“I think in the digital world that we live in, with the generation of students that we have now, they are going to be more comfortable. Simply because that is the world we live in now, they’re more accustomed to that,” said O’Bryan.

Smith says that while there are benefits to the new format, she also has concerns, particularly for students with learning disabilities who may need accommodations to complete their test.

“I think sometimes when you move to an online platform, it’s going to be difficult getting those same accommodations you were as being in-person. I’m just hoping that something gets put in place for students who do need those accommodations,” said Smith.

With the new online format, scores will also be available to students within days instead of waiting a few weeks.

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