School hopes to host SAT on Oct. 14 and PSAT on Oct. 17

September 4, 2020 — by Apurva Chakravarthy and Anjali Nuggehalli

SHS plans to administer SAT for seniors and PSAT for juniors following parent and student pressure 

Following weeks of sometimes back-and-forth between parents and the district, the school has tentatively decided to administer the SAT for seniors on Oct. 14 and the PSAT for juniors on Oct. 17. 

The ability for the school to host these tests relies heavily on three factors. First, Santa Clara County regulations have to allow the school to host large numbers of students and adults on campus. Second, environmental complications like evacuations from fires, poor air quality and power outages have to be resolved before the test dates. Last, the school has to find enough district-approved, volunteer proctors who are fingerprint and TB cleared to proctor the tests.

As stated in an email sent by principal Greg Louie on Aug. 24, the cost to take the SAT is $120 and the cost of the PSAT is $30. For both tests, if the entire class wanted to take the test, it would require roughly 25 classrooms and 50 proctors. While district regulations and environmental complications are major factors, Louie stressed that the school would not be able to move forward with proctoring these tests if they did not get enough volunteer proctors. 

As of Aug. 28, 73 parents had expressed interest in volunteering for the PSAT, and 116 people interested in volunteering for the SAT. The next step in this potential volunteering process is hosting a fingerprint night and providing more information through the applications.  

For many seniors, this news has relieved some of the stress and anxiety about tests that they have felt these past months. Due to the pandemic, many test sites canceled all their tests last spring and summer and may cancel August and September dates as well. 

Despite many colleges, such as the UCs and the Ivy League, going test-optional for the Class of 2021, many seniors hope to take their test because of the time, effort, and money that they have already spent preparing for the test. In a time where summer programs and internships were canceled the past summer, seniors also hope to distinguish themselves from other candidates with their test scores.

Senior Aliza Zaman has not been able to take the SAT after three of her test dates were canceled. The urgency to get standardized test scores before turning in her college applications has been steadily increasing. 

Zaman believes that the main reason that a school site would be effective is the current inefficiency of the registration process.

“Signing up for tests in the past has been OK, but currently our SATs have been getting canceled very last minute and there is little time for seniors to continue re-registering,” Zaman said. 

Still, Zaman recognizes that safety is the main priority and said she would understand if the test at the school were to be canceled.

While several universities such as the University of California have decided to go test-optional for the class of 2021, parents are teaming up with the administration in hopes of using both Saratoga High and Los Gatos High as testing centers for district students. Heading the efforts on the parents’ side is senior Akshar Sarvesh’s mother Aparna Seethepalli.

“I was watching so many seniors, including my son, constantly have their test dates canceled,” Seethepalli said. “I had heard that other schools were considering becoming testing centers, and I thought, ‘Why can’t we try this?’” 

Along with reaching out to the school board, Seethepalli has organized a group of over 200 Saratoga parents in favor of making both schools testing centers.

District human resources head Brian Safine has acted as a liaison between the College Board and Saratoga parents. While Safine actively supports the efforts to preserve testing, he also emphasized that the county regulations ultimately determine the status of testing. 

“It is clear to me and the board that a lot of students are being inconvenienced and having to travel great distances just to have their tests canceled,” Safine said. “But the big challenge with making a testing center is making it work logistically with social distancing protocols.” 

For many seniors, the lack of a testing center in Saratoga combined with the huge number of students looking to test this fall forced them to travel far distances to get to their testing sites.

Senior Arash Amiri has had a tough time finding a test location, mainly because of how far away from home most open test sites were. When Amiri tried to sign up for the ACT after his April test date was canceled, all test sites for September and October within a one to two hour radius of Saratoga were filled in the first hour. This process showed Amiri that a Saratoga testing site would be more efficient and beneficial for students.

“Driving further forces people to wake up earlier, not get as much sleep, feel rushed and maybe even force them to stay at a hotel the previous night,” Amiri said.

For seniors who are feeling anxious and worried about standardized tests during the pandemic, Safine urges them that “colleges understand the world that students are living in right now.” 

He emphasizes that they will be able to see grades, extracurriculars, letters of recommendation and essays and they will not place such high emphasis on test scores.

Regardless, the decision for the school to host a tentative SAT has relieved some stress for seniors. 

“I would really appreciate it if they are able to safely open a senior-only SAT,” Zaman said. “After putting in so much time and effort into studying for it, it would be nice to be able to take the test.”


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