External Forces Influencing K-12 Educational Attainment (Ciancio & Tsontakis)


Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Jackie Tsontakis & Amanda Ciancio Podcast: Factors Influencing K-12 Educational Attainment 




Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).






Studies have shown that students who take the SAT more than once perform significantly better with each additional time they take the exam. In a study conducted by the Office of Research at the College Board, the average score increases among students who took the exam in the fall of their junior year and again in the fall of their senior year were 19 points for verbal and 21 points for math. This information is relevant to students in Michigan because the state just recently just switched from covering the cost of the ACT once per student to offering the SAT once free of charge to the student. While the State of Michigan is already ahead of the curve as one of only 8 states that provide college entrance exams to all students for free, we believe the state can go even further. Students who come from lower income households might not be able to cover the cost of an additional SAT exam, which has proven potential to achieve a higher score. While there are free test vouchers available, these vouchers are difficult to access and do not guarantee that a student has the support or resources needed to schedule their tests or arrive to the test centers. As a result, these students have less of an opportunity to increase their scores and achieve their best possible score on the SAT.

Perhaps a place for further research might be looking at demographics and how students in different regions in Michigan or from different backgrounds might perform on their second or third SAT test. Additionally, we should look into what contributes to a higher score on a student’s second or third SAT. For instance, getting a higher score might rely on a student studying more between the two tests. This information would be useful in narrowing down our proposal and deciding if there should be different solutions for different groups of students (depending on availability of study resources, demographics, past academic achievement, etc.). Overall, we believe that access to multiple SAT testings should be comparable among all students in Michigan, despite household income. We hope to propose a solution to create more equity in this process and allow students across Michigan to have increased potential to achieve their best possible SAT score.






Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: Expand & Revise Current SAT Waiver Program

  1. The SAT College Board currently offers up to two vouchers to each student whose family income meets the requirements for the National School Lunch Program or government assistance. These vouchers allow a student to retake the SAT at an outside test center for free up to two additional times. Waivers are provided by a school’s counselor. Waivers do not cover cancellation fees and assume that a student’s counselor has the necessary documents and time to request these waivers.

  2. We propose that the waiver program be expanded to students of all socioeconomic backgrounds and that this process no longer be handled by a school’s counselor. Students who may not qualify for government assistance can also encounter barriers to retaking the SAT, such as lack of parental support. In order to remove the amount of pressure put on a school’s counselor (assuming they have one) to encourage students to take advantage of the waiver program, we recommend that the waivers be distributed through an online application process. This process would allow students to note their reason for requesting a waiver in a quick and reliable way. Funding for this solution would be provided through College Board and the Michigan State government.

  3. https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register/fees/fee-waivers


SOLUTION 2: Provide Second SAT for Free in School

  1. Schools in the state of Michigan currently offer one SAT for free to each student during the spring of their junior year. This program opens up many doors for students coming from low income households who may not have otherwise been able to afford to take a college entrance exam. Each student (not receiving government assistance) can only take the SAT once free of charge, and has to pay for the test every time he or she would like to take the test again.

  2. We propose that offering a second free SAT in the fall of a student’s senior year would eliminate the stigma of the waiver system previously mentioned. Furthermore, this would reduce the barriers faced by a student who may not be able to find a ride to an alternative testing center or may not have an open weekend day to take the test. Students would feel less embarrassed to take the exam at a time when all other students are taking it rather than using a waiver which is allocated specifically for students with financial need. This would also create a norm of taking the exam twice across school districts and encourage students to prepare to take the exam two times and learn from their first try. Additionally, students might experience less test anxiety walking into the SAT knowing that it is expected and encouraged for them to take it a second time with the rest of their peers. Funding for this solution would be provided by the Michigan State government and Michigan schools.

  3. https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/state-partnerships/michigan


SOLUTION 3: Mandate Use of Score Choice System

  1. In 2009, College Board instituted Score Choice, a system that was created to eliminate student test anxiety, by allowing each student to select the scores that are provided to certain colleges. On the other hand, many colleges and scholarship programs require students to report all scores from each time they take the SAT. This can create decreased motivation for a student to retake the test due to fear of achieving lower scores that could then hinder their acceptance rates. There are currently 134 four-year universities that require students to report all scores - therefore opting out of Score Choice.

  2. We propose that the Score Choice system be used by all Michigan colleges. While the Score Choice system greatly benefits students by allowing them to select the SAT scores they would like to send to the schools they apply to, there are many colleges and scholarship programs which still require students to send all scores. There are currently four colleges in Michigan that opt out of Score Choice: Hope College, Andrews University, Cornerstone University and Sacred Heart Major Seminary. While these four schools enroll several students from the state of Michigan, we recognize that many Michigan students attend schools outside of the state as well. While we believe it would be viable to begin with only schools in the state of Michigan, we hope to expand this solution to schools nationwide.

  3. https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/scores/canceling-scores

  4. https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/digitalServices/pdf/professionals/sat-score-use-practices-participating-institutions.pdf

  5. https://www.studypoint.com/ed/retake-the-sat/


Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.


Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.


Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?



The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.




(Add more "Whereas" clauses if necessary.)

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).





(Add more "Resolved" clauses if necessary.)


What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?




Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  



These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.


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