Background on a New College Entrance Exam for Illinois:The Illinois State Board of Education remains committed to providing all 11th-grade students the opportunity to take a state-funded college entrance exam on site in their school district during the school day. The State Board released a Notice of Award to the College Board (SAT) after an intensive, multi-month process reviewing sealed proposals from vendors seeking to administer the assessment for college entrance to all 11th-grade students in Illinois. Additional background information on the selection process is available in the November Board meeting packet, starting on page 120.
ISBE is currently unable to provide definitive information regarding the administration of the SAT next spring. The College Board was posted as the successful bidder on Nov. 23, triggering a standard 14-day protest period during which a protest to the procurement process may be filed. For this specific procurement, the posting period was extended until Dec. 16, and ACT filed a protest. As a result, the procurement for a college entrance examination remains open and the state’s Chief Procurement Officer’s (CPO) office will now consider the merits of the basis of the protest. Once this process is complete, the CPO will issue a written determination. There is no set time frame for a determination, but the CPO does consider the urgency of the procurement. (For the administrative rules regarding protests, please click here.)
Additionally, without a complete fiscal year 2016 state budget, the State Board does not yet know if appropriations will be available to fund the cost of providing a college entrance exam to students this spring. The State Board understands the uncertainty that exists as this process remains unresolved. We will work to keep you updated throughout this process.
The transition to a new vendor for the college entrance exam will require additional communication supports for your districts and families. We know students and parents will need information on scoring and reporting, as well as resources regarding the assessment content and practice materials, as soon as possible. Your schools and districts will also require training in the administration of a new assessment. We are preparing for all possible outcomes and will provide the necessary guidance, materials, and resources as soon as procedural questions are resolved.
Considerations for Selection of the SAT in Illinois:
Multiple factors were considered before the College Board received the Notice of Award. Most importantly, we want to ensure that all Illinois students, particularly our low-income students, continue to be provided with a high-quality college entrance exam that is accepted by all higher education institutions in Illinois.
- Illinois will continue to be among a handful of states committed to providing a college entrance exam at no cost to all 11th-grade students, a practice that has afforded opportunities and provided access to higher education to students who would have otherwise not made their goal of higher education a reality.
- SAT is more aligned with the Illinois Learning Standards. This was a top priority of ISBE and the evaluators scoring the proposals. The assessment is a better tool to measure what students are learning and determine their level of the readiness after graduation.
- SAT is aligned with the goals of the Agency, as approved by the Board.
- The College Entrance Exam RFSP was required to address item No. 5 of Goal No. 1: “Goal 1: Every child in each public school system in the state of Illinois deserves to attend a system wherein . . .
- 1. All kindergarteners are assessed for readiness.
- 2. Ninety percent or more 3rd-grade students are reading at or above grade level.
- 3. Ninety percent or more 5th-grade students meet or exceed expectations in mathematics.
- 4. Ninety percent or more students are on track to graduate with their cohort at the end of 9th grade.
- 5. Ninety percent or more students graduate from high school ready for college or career.”
- SAT will provide a cost savings to the state. Included in the evaluation of the College Board proposal was an estimated three-year cost that was $1,372,800 less than the ACT proposal based upon an estimated, but not guaranteed, total of 143,000 11th-grade students taking the exam annually.
- Given timely funding, districts will have the ability to provide the state-funded college entrance exam to all 11th-grade students at their attendance school during a school day administration of the test.
- SAT will be administered in the spring of 2016. However, until a contract is finalized (and assuming timely funding), final testing dates will not be available.
- The plan is to provide two options for a spring administration date from which districts will be able to choose.
- This was a requirement built into the procurement to allow for additional district autonomy.