Last Updated: 2:20 p.m.
The College Board, the organization that offers college-entrance exams such as the SAT and Advanced Placement tests, is offering SAT retakes at no costs to students who took the test at Matanzas High School on Dec. 4.
The re-take offer, which is voluntary, is a direct consequence of Flagler County School Board member Janet McDonald interfering with the process last Saturday, when she went to the school and urged students not to wear protective face masks, in direct violation of College Board rules. The College Board requires face-masking at its testing sites. It was using Matanzas High School (as well as Flagler Palm Coast High School) as a private non-profit organization, in agreement with the school district, making the testing site a private venue for the duration of the tests. McDonald had no jurisdiction there, and was not authorized to be there.
“We are offering an optional makeup test for students who feel their performance was affected by the disruption at the test center on December 4,” the College Board’s communications office confirmed to FlaglerLive this morning, in response to questions prompted by emails students were receiving. “Students are not required to participate and may call in to opt out of retesting.
“When you took the SAT® on December 4, 2021, there was a problem that may have affected some students,” the College Board wrote students who’d taken the test that day. It did so in a December 8 email, an original copy of which was provided FlaglerLive. “Because of this, you may choose to either release your score (if you believe your performance wasn’t affected) or retest at no additional charge. You can’t view your score to determine which option you prefer.”
Students are given options. “If you don’t think your performance was affected, we’ll release your score from the December 4, 2021, test, and you don’t have to take any action. We’ll report your score about three weeks after December 18, 2021. If you’d like to take the test again, a makeup test will be scheduled for December 18, 2021,” at Matanzas High School. Students interested in the retake are then directed to sign up at collegeboard.org/mysat and print their admission ticket, then show up at the test center at 7:45 a.m. “If you can’t test on this date, you can ask us to transfer your registration to another test date for free,” the College Board states, by contacting the board (866-756-7346 or 212-713-7789).
The school district was not aware of the development. “They’re trying to figure out what’s going on and what the word is that got out,” District spokesman Jason Wheeler said. The district had become aware of a posting on Flagler Parent, the Facebook page focused on district issues, that posted this morning and showed a make-up test date for a particular student on Dec. 18 at Matanzas. The student had acquired a registration number (which was redacted). Bobby Bossardet, the district’s assistant superintendent, contacted a College Board official about it but had not gotten confirmation about the retakes. “We rely on that particular individual, that contact, and they’ve not indicated anything to us, the district,” Wheeler said. “Nothing has been decided, nothing has been told to us by the college board.”
Wheeler was not at the time aware of whether Matanzas High School had been reserved for the re-takes, though another person familiar with the scheduled re-takes said that the College Board had, in fact, reserved the space. Several people directly involved in the matter are reluctant to speak on the record about it for fear of retaliation from the district.
McDonald showed up at Matanzas last Saturday, stood by the registration table, and told students not to wear mask, claiming it interfered with their oxygen intake and would be unhealthy–claims long discredited by innumerable studies, and discredited again by Dr. Stephen Bickel, the medical director at the Flagler Health Department, who called McDonald’s claims “absurd” and with “no scientific credibility.”
It isn’t clear what measures the College Board will take to prevent further interference from McDonald. Asked about such measures, the board said: “We are continuing to work closely with the test center to ensure that students have a positive experience.”
The school board member has a history of making bogus claims about Covid-related public health matters, and a pattern of flouting rules and directives: at an Aug. 17 school board meeting, Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies had asked the board members after a recess was called to retreat to a back room for their own safety, as the audience had become unruly and unpredictable. McDonald ignored the deputies, standing at the dais and engaging with the crowd. Speaking of the SAT testing site, she inaccurately said that district policies or state law prevailed over College Board rules as far as mask-wearing, when in fact the College Board’s rules do, being a private organization contracting to use the district’s facilities.
McDonald had herself approved the district’s rolling agreement with the College Board, which states: “The SAT will be administered under standard College Board test administration and security protocols as specified in the [Test center Master Form] and Test Center Supervisor training and instructional materials… In accordance with College Board policies, any test irregularity, including mis-administrations or security breaches, will be thoroughly investigated and may result in score cancellations.”