The Ivy Coach Daily

August 25, 2020

SAT Registration for Students with Disabilities

We call on College Board to create a more equitable test registration process (photo credit: Namkota).

One of the core objectives of Ivy Coach’s college admissions blog is to call out hypocrisies in the highly selective college admissions process and to speak truth to power when we feel it will benefit students and parents navigating the churning waters of the often stressful process. Today, we’d like to call out The College Board, the maker of the SAT and SAT Subject Tests, for not doing more to accommodate students with disabilities as these students and their parents seek to register for these all-important exams.

The Test Registration Process for Students with Disabilities Isn’t Seamless

Students who do not need accommodations for SAT and SAT Subject Test administrations can select their test site from a drop-down menu on College Board’s website. Yet for students who do need accommodations, it’s not that simple. Rather, for students who need accommodations, it’s College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities that pairs students with host testing sites. In our experience, College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities typically begins searching to pair these students with host test sites about a month before test dates. To do so, College Board asks test-takers for the names of high schools in their area so they can spearhead the process of facilitating the accommodation. But then, lo and behold, comes the red tape.

NYC Represents a Case Example of Inequity

You see, for a student in, say, New York City, Department of Education schools don’t allow outside students — whether the student is a New York City public school student or not — and many of New York City’s private schools do not allow outside students to complete standardized testing at their institutions. So where oh where is a New York City high school student who needs accommodations to test if College Board can’t find an available high school for the student (which is quite often the case)? Not to worry. In such instances, which we find are all too common, College Board offers these test-takers the opportunity to take the tests on another test day at no additional charge. Or, of course, the test-taker can request a refund.

A Possible Violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act

So let’s get this straight. Students who don’t need accommodations can easily choose their test site from a drop-down menu. Students who do need accommodations have to rely on College Board pairing the student with a test site, which often proves impossible such that the organization has to offer these test-takers different test dates and potentially even refunds. Think about it. These students are preparing — just as hard if not harder than students who don’t need accommodations — to take these exams on a given test date and yet they so often don’t get that same opportunity. It’s not right. It’s not fair. And it’s potentially even a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. We hereby call on College Board, an organization currently facing a nightmarish year, to immediately seek to rectify this issue facing so many students with disabilities who need testing accommodations. You can and must do better, College Board!

But hey, College Board isn’t the only testing company that we would argue doesn’t always do right by students with disabilities. Read our piece on how ACT, Inc. has, in the past, faced allegations of discrimination.

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