For the first time in 61 years, applicants to the University of California system will not have to submit standardized test scores that have previously been pillars of the college application process. As stay-at-home orders persist around the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UC schools announced that they are temporarily suspending SAT/ACT testing requirements. The class of 2021 will not be obligated to sit for the nearly four- hour test in a highly monitored, designated testing room.
“We want to help alleviate the tremendous disruption and anxiety that is already overwhelming prospective students due to COVID-19,” said John A. Pérez, chair of the Board of Regents, the governing board for UC. “By removing artificial barriers and decreasing stressors – including suspending the use of the SAT – for this unprecedented moment in time, we hope there will be less worry for our future students.”
Since the Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) announced a shutdown March 24, the classroom moved from school to home, prompting a shift in policy and procedure for all standardized tests. The challenges in maintaining the integrity of standardized tests taken at home are many.
The College Board is therefore offering a new at-home testing option for AP exams in order to give students the opportunity to earn college credit. The online tests will be open book, and can be taken on a computer, tablet or smartphone using a secure testing window provided by the College Board. Students have the option to either type and upload their responses or write responses by hand and submit a photo via their smartphone.
In the COVID-19 teaching and learning environment, Beverly Hills High School (BHHS) college counselors have pivoted, holding virtual meetings and offering webinars.
BHHS college counselor Casey Rowley will be holding a live Zoom info session every Friday at 12:15 p.m., during which juniors and seniors can participate in a Q&A. In a blog post published on April 1, Rowley encouraged students to control what they can. “Enjoy time with family, continue to do well in your classes and complete assignments and think of an activity you can do at home or virtually that still creatively showcases your strengths,” Rowley wrote. “And remember, context is key, you cannot be faulted for what is not available to you.”
In addition, BHUSD college counselors are available throughout the week to do one on one sessions with students and their families.
Of course, not having direct access all the time to teachers and counselors adds a level of anxiety for students that wasn’t previously there. With that in mind, colleges and universities are sensitive to the fact that students taking an AP test this spring will be tested differently than in previous years.
BHUSD Assistant Superintendent of Education Services, Dustin Seemann, told the Courier, “our teachers teach to a scope and sequence that aligns with the AP test in the College Board guidelines. Most of our students have pretty much already learned the bulk of the curriculum face-to-face, prior to our school closures.” Historically, Seemann said, “85 percent of our students are scoring fours or fives, so a lot of our kids get college credit through our advanced placement program.” BHHS offers 19 AP classes, and is hoping to add one more in the fall.