O'Fallon Progress

The horse has already left the barn

Dear Editor,

As the parent of a high-schooler I read OTHS Superintendent Darcy Benway’s insightful commentary on the local impact of the SAT-ACT controversy with great interest. Unfortunately, the horse has already left the barn on this, at least for the near future. In late 2015 the Illinois State Board of Education awarded a three year $14.3 million contract to the College Board in favor of its SAT college admission test. ACT quickly formally protested the award citing evaluator bias and inconsistent evaluation scoring. The protest was later disallowed. Looking on the bright side, the switch saved taxpayers $1.37 million. Unfortunately, many Illinois educators and administrators believe that in this instance familiarity should have trumped finance. It’s reminiscent of the old Budweiser TV commercial where an unhappy customer proclaims, “I wanted a Bud Light,” when given another alternative. The switch marked the end of a 15-year relationship with the ACT. It will quickly render ineffective all those years of valuable longitudinal ACT data that’s been gathered. Almost 157,000 Illinois 2015 high school graduates had taken the ACT. That compares to only 6,000 who took the SAT.The College Board must have assumed Illinois had funding to pay for this hard-fought contract. Embarrassingly, the continuing budgetary impasse has left Illinois tapped out.

The College Board maybe second guessing themselves. What good is a contract when there’s no money to pay for it? With no state-funded SAT (or ACT) testing this spring, it appears that everyone involved will get short changed.

Bill Malec, O’Fallon