Replacement comes as a result of legislator's attempts to lessen the test burden on students

The SAT is replacing the Smarter Balanced Assessment Test as the state standardized test for high school juniors in the spring, said Delaware Department of Education officials.

The decision is the result of legislators who have been saying students, especially high school juniors, are overloaded with exams, such as the SAT, Smarter Balanced, Advanced Placement, and ACT.

The College Board, which is the nonprofit that administers the college entrance exam, is launching a redesigned SAT this spring that is aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

“Our students deserve an exam that helps them gauge their college and career readiness, and our teachers deserve an exam that provides them with the information they need to guide their instruction. This is one example of how we are reducing the testing burden on our students and teachers,” Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky said. “This is a smart solution that ensures our educators, students and families get the information they need while mitigating the over-testing concern many share.

Delaware has been administering the SAT to public school juniors for free since 2011. According to Godowsky the transition to using the SAT as the accountability test this year is based on the feedback of elected leaders, educators and families. Ten legislators sent a letter to Gov. Jack Markell last week asking him to replace the Smarter Balanced with the SAT.

“Our community was clear that this was in the best interest of our high school juniors and the sooner we could make the switch the better,” Godowsky said. “This decision is in response to that feedback.”

Last spring, Gov. Markell launched a statewide assessment inventory process to help lessen the test burden on students.

“We believe that the concerns about the testing burden on our juniors are well founded.  We also agree that this move is a smart, commonsense way to reduce the testing burden significantly without sacrificing our ability to understand whether we are serving our students well and whether they are making the progress they need to be successful,” he said. “I have asked Secretary Godowsky to immediately designate the SAT as our 11th grade assessment and take all necessary steps to implement the change so that, beginning this year, juniors will no longer take Smarter Balanced.  The department will seek federal approval for this change in our state assessment as quickly as possible and otherwise ensure that the transition goes smoothly in schools across the state.”

State Board of Education President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray said students and families value the SAT.

“The redesigned SAT provides important information students, parents and educators want and need to understand students’ college, career and civic readiness,” she said.

The General Assembly passed and Gov. Markell signed into law Senate Joint Resolution 2 in the spring requiring an inventory and review of all assessments currently administered at the state, district and school level. He said the goal is to decrease the testing burden on students and teachers and increase the time available for teaching.

Districts and charter schools, which were eligible for supporting state grants, submitted their assessment inventories, recommendations, and impact information to the state at the end of December. The department has convened an assessment inventory committee with representatives from the House and Senate education committees, Delaware State Education Association, state superintendents, civil rights community and parents to make recommendations. The state’s final report must be published by June 2016.

Sen. David Sokola, chair of the Senate Education Committee supports the decision.

“This is the kind of change legislators were seeking when we approved SJR 2 to create a task force to fully review our student testing,” Sokola said. “This is a good first step toward removing burdens on our students and increasing instruction time for teachers, while also providing them with the important metrics needed to gauge student progress.”