The College Board: SAT® Testing Supports for English Language Learners


NEW YORK—The College Board has overhauled its request process for testing accommodations, making it easier for eligible students to receive the support they need on College Board assessments.

Beginning January 1, 2017, the vast majority of students who are approved for and using testing accommodations at their school through a current Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan will have those same accommodations automatically approved for taking the SAT®, PSAT™10, PSAT/NMSQT®, SAT Subject Tests™, and AP® Exams. Most private school students with a current, formal school-based plan that meets College Board criteria will also have their current accommodations automatically approved for College Board exams. This streamlined process builds on the College Board’s August 2016 expansion of testing accommodations that can be approved directly by schools without the need for additional documentation.

“Educators, students, and families have asked us to simplify our process, and we’ve listened,” said David Coleman, president and CEO of the College Board. “The school staff knows their students best, and we want to cut down on the time and paperwork needed to submit a testing accommodations request.”

Under this new policy, school testing accommodation coordinators need to answer only two questions when submitting most requests for students: “Is the requested accommodation(s) in the student’s plan?” and “Has the student used the accommodation(s) for school testing?” If the answer is yes to both questions, eligible students can be approved to receive most accommodations on College Board exams. This new process is expected to reduce the approval time for an overwhelming majority of accommodation requests.

“This is welcome news for the state of Michigan,” said Andrew J. Middlestead, director of the Office of Standards and Assessment for the Michigan Department of Education. “We’ve been working for years to push for better accommodations options for college entrance examinations, and this streamlined policy from the College Board is a powerful step forward in helping all students show their best work.”

These changes build on the College Board’s recent work to level the playing field for students, including offering students 43% more time per question on the SAT than on the ACT and giving all students access to free, personalized Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy® so they can feel confident and prepared on test day.

To make the SAT even more accessible to students, the College Board has worked with educators and state partners over the past year to provide testing supports for English language learners (ELL). Effective January 1, 2017, ELL students taking a state-funded SAT during the school day will have access to testing instructions in several native languages and approved word-to-word bilingual glossaries. In the fall of 2017, ELL students taking a state-funded SAT during the school day can also receive extended testing time (up to time and a half) and the opportunity to test in an environment with reduced distractions.

“We welcome these changes. They are the right thing to do to improve access to the SAT and remove barriers for English language learners and students with disabilities,” said Connecticut Commissioner of Education Dianna R. Wentzell. “We have been working with the College Board over the past year on the issue of testing accommodations, and we applaud them for taking steps to make the SAT more accessible to all students.”

The College Board expects to announce in the near future an expansion of these ELL testing supports to students taking the SAT in all states.

“From our first conversations with the College Board last year, we have appreciated their willingness to explore the possibility of allowing testing supports that would provide English language learners with college-reportable SAT scores,” said Joyce Zurkowski, executive director of assessment at the Colorado Department of Education. “We are excited that Colorado’s first statewide SAT administration will mark the first time that English language learners who use these testing supports on the state’s college entrance exam will receive college-reportable scores.”

About the College Board

The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of over 6,000 of the world’s leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education. Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success—including the SAT® and the Advanced Placement Program®. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators, and schools. For further information, visit [Opens in New Window]


College Board Communications Office
[email protected]