Assemblyman Hopes Proposed Legislation Will Help Stop SAT, ACT Cheating

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SACRAMENTO -- A former high school teacher is making a second attempt to enact a bill that makes it easier for school districts to provide free SAT and ACT testing for students seeking college admission.

Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, said the recent college admission scandals make the case for Assembly Bill 751. The schemes involved wealthy parents who sometimes paid to have tests taken by imposters.

O’Donnell’s bill would allow students to take admissions tests for free during school hours rather than at neutral locations on weekends.

High school student Billie Dee Scott was upset that wealthy families bought their way into college. She said taking the tests in a familiar environment would discourage cheating.

"You can’t have somebody who randomly comes in and your teachers going to know that’s not your name. So catching students who are trying to cheat on the SATs," Scott said.

The bill gives school districts the option of replacing the required eleventh-grade state assessment tests with the SAT or ACT.

In some cases, the money used for the assessment tests can be used to pay for SAT and ACT tests, which can cost families $60 to $70. The savings increase if students take the test multiple times to practice.

Free testing would level the playing field, so students who might never think of taking the test can compete with families who can afford to have their kids take the test multiple times.

A similar bill passed both houses of the legislature last year but was vetoed by then Gov. Jerry Brown, whose advisors wanted more time to assess the value of college admission tests. They were considering replacing the standard SAT and ACT with another test that better measures the effectiveness of California school standards.

But supporters of the O’Donnell bill say most out-of-state colleges still use the SAT and ACT as benchmarks for admissions and will do so for years to come. They are hoping that Gov. Gavin Newsom will see things their way.

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