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Students begin transitioning to SAT

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Because it is more closely aligned to the Colorado Academic Standards, the SAT college entrance exam will soon replace the ACT for high school juniors.

The shift in the state's college entrance exam is a result of state legislation passed last May (H.B. 15-1323). The Colorado Department of Education appointed a 15-member committee, as prescribed in the law, and concluded the state standards alignment were best evidenced with the SAT test.

The test is regularly taken in the spring, prompting letters from students, parents and superintendents criticizing the decision to change the new test so late in the school year.

State CDE member Joyce Rankin said rural school superintendents from the Western Slope signed a letter supporting a longer transition period. "I would agree, and would further recommend that the ACT remain in place for the next five years," she said.

The CDE was listening, and while a five-year moratorium is not in the cards, approval has been given to administer the ACT exam to high school juniors this year. The agreement will not change the selection committee's unanimous decision to award a five-year contract to administer the PSAT and SAT to Colorado's 10th and 11th grade students.

Under the agreement, this year's 10th graders will take the PSAT in preparation for Colorado's full transition to the SAT in spring 2017.

"We're very thankful that the testing vendors were willing to work with us to create a transition year for our 11th grade students," said interim education commissioner Elliott Asp. "Our high school juniors can take the assessment they've been preparing for, and we will work with districts, educators and the College Board to create a smooth transition to the SAT in 2017."

As Colorado makes this transition to a new college entrance exam and 10th grade exam, it's important for parents and students to know that the SAT is an approved, recognized assessment option in the Colorado Commission on Higher Education's Admissions Standards Policy and a well-established, recognized credential presented by students from around the world to colleges and universities throughout the country.

CDE staff will be working with testing vendors and measurement experts to link ACT and SAT data so the state and districts can continue to analyze trends in the college entrance exam results.

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