The Ivy Coach Daily

February 2, 2024

SAT Scores on Transcripts

SAT Scores on HS Transcripts, High School Transcripts and SAT Scores, Scores on Transcripts
Many high schools across Honest Abe’s home state are violating students’ FERPA rights.

Previously Published on May 11, 2017:

File this one under ridiculous. Most colleges across America have been test-optional since the start of the pandemic, yet the state of Illinois — in 2024 — continues to require its public school students to take the SAT. That’s right. The Illinois State Board of Education mandates that all 11th graders who attend public schools in Illinois, including students served at non-public facilities, take the SAT in April. In fact, if The College Board didn’t eliminate the essay, these students would still be required to take the SAT with essay (the state still hasn’t removed this requirement from its official government website). And, yes, the upcoming Digital SAT will become the new requirement for the public school students of Illinois.

Illinois Should Not Be Requiring the SAT

Illinois Requiring Unnecessary Testing

What’s good enough for America’s most elite colleges should be good enough for Illinois lawmakers. Since most elite universities across America — with exceptions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Georgetown University — don’t require SAT or ACT score submissions for admission during the 2023-2024 admissions cycle (and are unlikely to reinstate a testing requirement anytime soon), why should Illinois lawmakers require its public school students to sit for an extra, unnecessary exam?

Do these students really need to take more standardized tests? Do Land of Lincoln lawmakers really need to inject more stress into the college admissions process? What is the benefit of taking this test for the public school students of Illinois? If they want to take the SAT, they can take the SAT — on their own terms.

Illinois Picking Sides Between SAT and ACT

It’s also quite a bad look for Illinois lawmakers to require students to take the SAT — and not its rival, the ACT. The College Board, the maker of the SAT, and ACT, Inc., the maker of the ACT, are business rivals. These private companies compete for high school students to take their exams. Some students, naturally, have a predilection for the SAT, while others are better at the ACT.

So why should a state pick sides and force its public school students to sit for one exam and not the other? Of course, we at Ivy Coach don’t think Illinois should be forcing its public school students to sit for either exam, but how can they choose one private company over its rival? Does that not qualify as an attempt to restrain the trade of ACT, Inc.? It sure seems so to us! Feel free to send us flowers and a thank you note, ACT, Inc.!

Illinois Reported SAT Scores on High School Transcripts Until 2017

The fact is, Illinois needs to get with the times. And it’s not as though we at Ivy Coach haven’t called out Illinois in the past for its archaic SAT mandate and reporting. In 2017, two north suburban Illinois lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 757 to change the mandate that scores from the state-required SAT appear on student transcripts — legislation that passed by a 54-0 vote. The only problem? What on earth were Illinois high schools doing reporting SAT scores on transcripts as late as 2017? High schools, by law, should not be reporting scores from a private agency like The College Board.

By way of background, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (or the Buckley Amendment), which gave parents various rights over their children’s educational records, was established in the 1970s. But it wasn’t until the 1990s that high schools nationwide began taking FERPA seriously.

Before the 90s, it was standard practice for high school administrators to include standardized test scores (e.g., SATs, ACTs, APs, etc.) on students’ transcripts. But even ten years after FERPA’s passage, if you polled American high school counselors, you’d find that many still included scores on transcripts. And because parents didn’t know that this seemingly insignificant move violated their children’s rights, they didn’t know to ask that these scores be redacted.

Keep in mind that this was before most colleges required students to pay to send official score reports from The College Board or ACT, Inc. with their applications (that’s no longer the case at most top schools). So it’s not like colleges weren’t getting these test scores anyway.

In short, the 2017 legislation called for Illinois high schools to abide by FERPA, a preexisting law. As an analogy, it was as though physicians were sharing confidential information with their patients’ friends and family in direct violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (or HIPAA), and the state passed a law 20 years later to say stop it or else! Ridiculous!

Ivy Coach Calls for Illinois and 16 Other States to End Their SAT or ACT Testing Mandates

Anachronism – noun – an SAT word that denotes a thing of a particular era that no longer belongs. The SAT mandate in Illinois, which still exists in 2024, years after most of America’s colleges have gone test-optional in admissions, is an anachronism. And it’s not like Illinois is alone here. In fact, there’s an article in The Wall Street Journal today that millions of students are still required to take the SAT or ACT by their high schools in states like Indiana. The Wall Street Journal piece reported, “Seventeen states use either the SAT or ACT to meet high-school testing requirements under the federal school accountability law, according to the U.S. Department of Education.”

It’s all absolutely ridiculous! So, from atop our soapbox in elite college admissions, Ivy Coach says, “Hey hey, ho ho. The SAT mandate for the public school students of Illinois and the 16 other states has got to go.”

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