Furiously penciling in bubbles for three hours (and an additional 50 minutes for the optional essay) while sitting for the SAT is no doubt a memorable part of the high school experience. To make it doubly exciting, there is also the chance that you will get to the end of the test, realize you accidentally skipped a line, and have to go back and erase and refill in your answers before the time is up. In the future, however, students may have to miss out on this happy time, as standardized testing transitions to online formats.
Earlier this month, Chisholm High School in Enid, Okla., administered the first ever online SAT. Around 100 schools in Oklahoma and Ohio will join Chisholm this year, and this number could increase.
“We will continue to work with educators to navigate the unique challenges of responsibly delivering digital assessments while safeguarding access and equity,” Jeremy Singer, chief operating officer of the College Board, said in a statement.
Bringing the SAT online has several benefits. According to The New York Times, digital testing could mean “lower cost, instant results and more accurate scoring,” as well “greater security from test theft,” but it could also have serious consequences: A study by the State Educational Technology Directors Association indicated that students who do not use computers for schoolwork performed more poorly on online tests than they did on comparable paper tests. In addition, when the ACT was first administered online in South Carolina last year, school officials cited technical difficulties as primary concerns.
Online standardized testing is not new. Just last month, South students had the great pleasure of taking the Smarter Balanced test (SBAC), which measures Common Core State Standards. The SBAC was a prime example of online testing not working. Because of a glitch in the system, the calculator section of the test was offered sans calculator, and South administrators are still trying to flag down students who have to retake it.
According to The New York Times, the SAT could follow in the SBAC’s footsteps and one day become computer adaptive. However, before this can happen, the College Board will have to take measures to prevent any malfunctions like the one above. It is one thing to retake a test with 40 questions and another to retake one with more than 140 and on which many post-high school opportunities depend.