Shove Chapel on the Colorado College campus, photographed on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

By Jason Gonzales, Chalkbeat Colorado

This story was originally published by Chalkbeat. Sign up for their newsletters at

Despite state school board members deeming the SAT voluntary this year for Colorado high school students, the state education department ordered more than 30,000 test books for about 400 schools to administer it for free in September.

Although the Colorado Department of Education could not say how many students took the college readiness test last month, clearly many students still view the exam as important to their path to college.

James Yepez, a Palmer High School counselor in Colorado Springs, said his students are convinced they need to take the test to get into the school of their choice. College-bound students still believe SAT scores will help their admission chances, he said.

In Colorado, at least for the foreseeable future, the privately administered SAT isn’t going anywhere.

The state uses the test to rate school performance. Students also can use the test to demonstrate proficiency in English and math to meet new graduation requirements that apply to the Class of 2021. Much is also tied to the test, including the determination of merit scholarships.

Nationwide, more than 1,550 colleges have made the test optional for admissions, increasing about 50% this year, according to Akil Bello of the National Organization for Fair and Open Testing, which opposes how standardized tests are used in admissions. That’s about two-thirds of all colleges nationwide, Bello said.

Many schools decided either just before or right after the start of the coronavirus pandemic, said Bello, who is senior director of advocacy and advancement.