NAIA modifies SAT standards for initial eligibility

By NAIA National Office
May 27, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In March 2016, the College Board implemented its redesigned SAT college admissions test, the first major change since 2005.

New SAT score equivalency prompts change to 940 and creation of an exception for affected students seeking to compete for the first time in 2016-17; evaluation of impact on ACT scores is under way.

The College Board first announced in 2013 that it planned to redesign the test by 2016. Since that time the NAIA National Eligibility Committee (NEC) and National Office staff have kept abreast of this issue, particularly as to how the introduction of a redesigned test may affect NAIA initial-eligibility standards. Information communicated in the months leading up to the first administration of the redesigned test in March 2016 did not indicate that changes in the redesigned SAT test would substantively affect the NAIA SAT eligibility standard of 860.

In early May 2016, the College Board released the scoring results for the new test. The College Board announced at that time that according to the board's concordance tools, which compare results of the previous version with results on the redesigned test, a score of 860 on the previous version has been determined by the College Board to equate to a score of 940 on the redesigned test.

This significant change has raised serious issues regarding the timing of this announcement, students' reliance on test scores for purposes related to admissions, financial aid and athletics eligibility, and has placed institutions of higher education, the NAIA and other associations in very difficult positions in terms of their ability to fairly protect the integrity of admissions and eligibility standards.

In recent days, representatives of the NAIA have engaged in discussions with representatives of the College Board, NCAA and other higher education resources on how best to ensure the integrity and fairness of its academic standards and, at the same time, accommodate students who may be affected by the change in SAT scoring.

On Friday, May 20, the National Eligibility Committee (NEC) emphasized that current NAIA academic standards support a modification of the SAT initial-eligibility standard from 860 to 940, consistent with the recently announced new concordance tables. The committee also found it necessary to conclude, however, that based on these circumstances beyond the association's control, the timing of the College Board's announcement and reliance issues associated with this announcement, the NEC will provide an exception to the SAT test score minimum for any student who scored between 860 and 930 on a national SAT test administration conducted in March 2016 or later. This SAT test score minimum exception will apply specifically for eligibility to compete during the 2016-17 academic year.

The NEC further concluded that this same exception will apply for students who achieve a comparable ACT score on national ACT testing dates in March 2016 or later. The NEC and National Office staff are initiating discussions with representatives of the ACT to determine in the near future the specific concordance score(s) for ACT tests that will be eligible for this exception for competition in the 2016-17 academic year.

Finally, the NEC emphasized that NAIA member institutions (and affiliated conferences) retain the authority to establish initial-eligibility standards and other eligibility provisions more stringent than NAIA policies and regulations.

This one-year, SAT test score minimum exception opportunity reflects the NAIA's commitment to maintaining its academic standards in view of current industry circumstances and its student-centric focus by accommodating a situation that was not within the student's or the NAIA's control.

• NAIA SAT standards for initial eligibility •

•  If a student took the SAT before March 2016, the minimum accepted score is 860.

•  If the SAT was taken in March 2016 or after, the minimum accepted score is 940.*

*Students who scored between 860 and 930 on the March 2016 or later SAT test will be granted an automatic exception to the SAT test score minimum to compete during the 2016-17 academic year. The NAIA Eligibility Center will automatically apply this SAT test score minimum exception in the eligibility determination process.