A stubborn state: Florida’s refusal to drop testing requirements is driving high school seniors sick A stubborn state: Florida’s refusal to drop testing requirements is driving high school seniors sick
BY SASHEEN JOSEPH Florida is known for being different, but right now isn’t the time for that.  Since the school year just started, many... A stubborn state: Florida’s refusal to drop testing requirements is driving high school seniors sick

BY SASHEEN JOSEPH

Florida is known for being different, but right now isn’t the time for that. 

Since the school year just started, many high school seniors have had their email inboxes full of everything that has to do with college and when the word ‘college’ is mentioned, ‘test’ is usually the next word to follow. More specifically, the SAT and the American College Test ACT are inevitably mentioned.

As if living through a pandemic and attending school fully online isn’t mentally draining enough, the added stress of applying for college is enough for a senior to burn out within a week. While most colleges and universities have taken that into consideration by making standardized tests optional, the state of Florida is late to the party and its stubbornness is going to drive seniors sick. The State University System of Florida is maintaining their standardized test requirement, despite the major repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic.

The central reason many colleges and universities in the United States have made this aspect of the application optional is that many applicants this year have yet to take a standardized test. The last test to be administered before the state of Florida shut down was in March. This only leaves a few testing dates available for applying seniors to register for in order to have a score to send in the fall with their applications.

The pandemic left an estimated 44,000 students in Florida who have yet to take an SAT deserted and panicking since standardized test scores are not optional for any of the 12 universities in the state of Florida.

To make the situation even more tricky, many testing sites have either canceled or postponed the new test dates due to COVID-19 concerns. This is understandable, since sitting in an enclosed environment for over three hours to take a test is a risk being taken at the cost of one’s health. Even if test-takers are socially distanced and have their masks on, it is still a source of concern for their health.

The pandemic left an estimated 44,000 students in Florida who have yet to take an SAT deserted and panicking since standardized test scores are not optional for any of the 12 universities in the state of Florida.

This leaves many seniors in a precarious position since they have to choose between being safe or being eligible to apply for any Florida university. This not only affects admissions, but financial aid too.

Most high school seniors that plan to attend a Florida university also apply for the Bright Futures scholarship, which pays either 75% tuition through the Florida Medallion Scholarship (FMS) or 100% tuition through the Florida Academic Scholarship (FAS) for any Florida institution.

In order to qualify for the FMS, students must get at least 1210 on the SAT or 25 on the ACT.  For the FAS, students must get at least 1330 on the SAT or 29 on the ACT. The deadline to apply for this scholarship program was extended to December 1 for the Class of 2020, but no such announcement nor update was made for the current class of Florida seniors.

In order for this situation to change, the standardized testing requirement would have to be suspended by the Florida Board of Governors. However, the only response that has been given by them is that additional test sessions have been scheduled and a suggestion for universities to extend their deadline.

Although the idea of extending the deadline and scheduling more tests sounds like a valid solution, none of these eliminate the risk of testing resulting from the current state of the pandemic, so the additional tests can be canceled just as easily. This solution also doesn’t eliminate the disadvantage lower-income students– who often cannot afford to take these exams– are experiencing.

Evidently, the best decision to be made by the Florida Board of Governors is to suspend testing requirements so that testing can be optional for college applications. Not only would this allow more seniors to apply to Florida universities, but it can also make the applying process significantly less stressful. It is the best solution for all if Florida finally joined the rest of the country’s institutions on this matter.

Photo courtesy of the University of Florida