OPINION: Replacing state testing with entrance exams would be better for students

The Pathways to College Act, or AB 1951, was first proposed late January of this year, and if passed, will allow school districts to replace tests from the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) with college entrance exams, such as the ACT or SAT.

The bill passed in the California Assembly on August 29, and Gov. Jerry Brown has until September 22 to approve it. If approved, students would be in a much more convenient position for taking essential college entrance exams.

Districts administering the ACT or the SAT rather than CAASPP testing would be incredibly beneficial to students. Considering how many universities require one of the two test scores for admission evaluation, taking one for free on school grounds will only benefit college applicants.

Allowing students to test for free, however, is not AB 1951’s only advantage. It will hopefully encourage teachers to teach more lessons explicitly aimed toward succeeding on the college assessments. Currently, most teachers do not teach to the SAT or ACT as they are not part of the current curriculum. Students are left up the their own devices to study and succeed on the tests.

If the SAT or ACT test becomes the standard assessment for school districts, then educators have the opportunity to give more directionalized lessons and study sessions, which would help improve student test scores.

Another benefit is the assessment can be administered without students having to drive elsewhere. Now, students have to wake up early in order to drowsily drive long distances to get to where the test is administered. With AB 1951, students would take the evaluation at their own school, which wouldn’t require students to wake up earlier or drive to any unfamiliar locations.

Critics of AB 1951 argue that the SAT and ACT tests aren’t designed for students with disabilities or English learners, but that concern is already accounted for. The bill requires that proper accommodations are reviewed and implemented before the test is administered.

By limiting cost of and distance from the assessments, giving teachers the opportunity to help students prepare for the tests, and adding accommodations for students with special needs, The Pathways to College Act could only serve to benefit students’ eligibility for college.