Official signals in-person classes won't resume this school year
Illinois students likely won't be returning to classrooms for the remainder of the school year.
Illinois Deputy Gov. Jesse Ruiz suggested Wednesday that the suspension of in-person instruction for all schools, which began March 17, could be extended through the end of the school year. An official announcement is expected by the week's end.
"We've applied and received a federal waiver to exempt all students from accountability assessments for one year, as soon as it became clear that suspension of in-person instruction would extend beyond the initial two-week announcement and most likely again through the end of the school year," Ruiz said.
Ruiz was speaking during a news conference at which the College Board announced it is canceling nationwide administration of the SAT college entrance exam on June 6 and has scheduled fall testing dates starting in August.
"There are things more important than tests," College Board CEO David Coleman said. "Our top priority is the health and well-being of students. The scientific evidence and guidance from public health officials is clear that encouraging students to gather in person in June would not be safe for them, their families or the adults involved. Already 20 states have closed their schools for the rest of the academic year."
All current Illinois 11th-graders will be able to take the test for free this fall.
Nearly half of Illinois students -- 48.8% -- qualify as low-income and rely on the state-provided free SAT to meet college entrance requirements.
"Taking the SAT is also a graduation requirement. And we've decided not to seek an executive action to waive this requirement because we believe that all students deserve to graduate with college as an option," Ruiz said.
The Illinois State Board of Education will be providing recommendations to help school districts develop a transition plan for when students return to on-site learning and SAT testing in the fall.
Confirmed SAT testing dates are Aug. 29, Oct. 3, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5. Students will be able to register for these dates by May.
"We're calling on our members schools and colleges, as well as local communities to open their doors and provide additional test center capacity so that every student who wants to take the SAT can do so," Coleman said. "Those students who have been unable to test due to the coronavirus will get top priority."
But if schools don't reopen this fall, the College Board will provide a digital SAT that students can take at home. Tens of thousands of students in select states and school districts have been taking a digital SAT for the past five years.
"Providing the SAT at home will require remote proctoring at a scale not yet seen," Coleman said. "We will also draw on our experience in preparing to deliver AP (Advanced Placement) exams to 3 million students at home in May, as well as our successful launch of a new online platform that delivers daily online lessons in 32 courses, which have been viewed more than 7.4 million times."
The College Board has dedicated 73 full-time staff members to provide technical support with digital testing. More than 8,000 students and educators already have reached out for help with devices and bandwidth, Coleman said.