Inconsistencies in the New SAT Score-Reporting Policy

The College Board has faced questions about Score Choice.

When The College Board first announced in June 2008 a new policy as it relates to the reporting of SAT scores to colleges, the organization offered few specifics on just how this would all work. Then in November 2008, The College Board alas revealed some of these long-awaited specifics — likely inspired by the brouhaha that broke out at a conference in Seattle for the National Association for College Admission Counseling. At the meeting, which we happened to be at, admissions officer, school counselors, and private college counselors all voiced confusion on The College Board’s new policy and why the organization offered such cryptic details about it.

The College Board Has Revealed Some More Information on Score Choice

Since this time, The College Board has revealed some more information about the new Score Choice policy on its website for professionals. Yet in the past couple of weeks, we’ve been hearing from our juniors who have been attending information sessions at different colleges that Score Choice may not be applicable. So yesterday, once again, we called The College Board’s counselor hotline and asked how some colleges would be able to see all scores and yet other colleges would see only the scores that the student wants them to see. The answer we received was that they don’t yet know but they’ve been getting feedback from colleges and they’re considering several different options. Uh huh.

Here are some of the possibilities that The College Board representative presented:

1. Colleges may use an honor system that requires the applicant to submit all the scores.

OR

2. After receiving the student’s score report, an admissions officer can call The College Board to verify that all of the scores were reported. If the student did use Score Choice, admissions officers can then access the unreported scores over the phone.

OR

3. The high school counselor will be obligated to submit all scores at an admissions officer’s request.

We See Flaws in the New Score Choice Policy As Currently Designed

We at Ivy Coach see each of these possibilities outlined above creating additional issues. Here are some of the flaws we see under each option.

1. “The honor system”: Some students will adhere to this “honor code,” and yet still others will invariably neglect to report all of their scores.

2. “Admissions checking with The College Board’: While The College Board can and does make its own rules, this seems to negate the value and the intent of Score Choice.

3. “High school counselors caught in the middle”: In what seems to be a contradictory statement, The College Board is actually “strongly suggesting” that high school counselors “obtain the consent of students” in sending the entire report. Under the FAQs of the same report, it states:

“Q: How will counselors know which scores to release or include on a transcript?

A: The College Board recommends that high schools do not include SAT scores when sending student transcripts to colleges or universities. We strongly suggest that counselors obtain the consent of students prior to releasing their scores, even if these scores are needed by a third-party program (for example, a scholarship or recognition service).”

The following are additional statements from this report: “Score Choice will not affect score reports sent to students or to their high schools—both will continue to receive all scores…Score Choice will be an optional feature. Students should still feel comfortable sending all scores, since most colleges consider a student’s best score. Colleges will continue to set their own test requirement policies. These policies may vary from college to college. The College Board will work with colleges to provide them with guidance on formulating and/or clarifying their score-submitting policy. Students will be encouraged to follow the different score-reporting requirements of each college to which they apply.”

The College Board Needs to Get Its Act Together

We still can’t get over the fact that now six months after this new policy was first announced, The College Board hasn’t established firm guidelines. One would think that a company that is a leader in its field would be better organized and not leave students, parents, admissions officers, and college counselors in a general state of confusion. According to The College Board, this new policy was “designed to reduce student stress and improve the test-day experience,” yet these ambiguities are creating additional stress. We’re incredulous that the test-makers who have dominated the college testing market for over a century and who write the questions that help to determine college admissions can’t produce definitive answers.

 
 

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