School closures due to pandemic limiting South Florida students’ options to take SATs

(WSVN) - The pandemic has already turned life upside down for so many, but South Florida high school students who are applying to college are being hit with another obstacle. 7’s Karen Hensel investigates.

These Miami-Dade high school seniors are dressed for success, but they haven’t had much success finishing their college applications.

Jose Pujol, high school senior: “Actually, I go to sleep thinking about this, right? Because it’s pretty big.”

Jose Pujol and his friends want to attend one of Florida’s state universities after graduation, but they haven’t taken their SATs yet, and they’re running out of time.

Jose Pujol: “They’ve kept cancelling our test dates, and I myself have gotten the test cancelled about five times now, haven’t been able to take it once.”

The College Board administers the exam seven times a year, starting in March.

Many high schools double as testing centers, so when they closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, three test dates during the spring were scrapped.

The next date was at the end of August.

Jose Pujol: “That one also got cancelled.”

An extra date was added for September, but Jose isn’t hopeful.

The College Board’s website lists nearly 60 testing locations across Miami-Dade and Broward counties. More than half of those are closed.

Students are warned to contact the open test centers to make sure testing is actually taking place.

Jose Ibarra, high school senior: “Once I contacted them, they just told me the same thing, that they were cancelled due to the pandemic.”

Several colleges and universities have waived test requirements for college applicants. The Florida State Board of Governors, which oversees the state’s university system, has not.

In an email to 7 Investigates, the board says, “Our office has been working with both test administration entities, and we see that they are placing a high priority on making sure Florida’s students are able to take these tests.”

Robert Medina, high school senior: “A lot of students were looking at August as a final hope.”

Robert Medina managed to take the test before the March shutdown. He wanted to retake it in August to try to raise his score.

He says he can’t find an open test center in South Florida, so he’s planning to hit the road.

Robert Medina: “To Port St. Lucie.”

But making a long drive up north is not an option for some.

Jose Ibarra: “I also have a job, so it’s very difficult to move that around, so being able to take it in this county is very important for me.”

Students are encouraged to take the test by the fall semester of their senior year, but with just four test dates left this semester, and South Florida schools closed for in-house learning, the SAT is putting our students to the test in applying for college.

7 Investigates has reached out to the College Board to ask if they plan any additional testing options for South Florida students. As of late Friday night, they have not responded.

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