Follow us on Twitter: @GoAfricaNetwork and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GoAfricaNetwork
New York City will begin offering the SAT free to all public school juniors during the school day, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced on Monday, part of a push to encourage more students to apply to college.
Education officials said that by removing barriers to entry — like the required fee, or fee waiver, and the very act of signing up — the hope is that students who might not otherwise have taken the test will do so.
“The opportunity to go to college should never be decided by students’ backgrounds or ZIP codes,” Ms. Fariña said in a statement. “I only became the first person in my family to go to college because a teacher let me know it was an option and supported me through the application and enrollment process so I could follow my dreams of becoming a teacher.”
With this change, which will take effect in the spring of the 2016-17 school year, New York City joins several statewide efforts to increase the number of students taking college entrance exams, like the SAT or ACT. States including Kentucky, South Carolina and Wisconsin already require that students take the ACT to fulfill their high school testing requirements, and earlier this year, Connecticut announced all 11th graders would have to take the SAT.
In Connecticut, the SAT replaced an existing exam and was billed largely as a way to decrease the number of tests students are required to take. (Concern around testing has reached a fever pitch, and this weekend, the United States Department of Education urged states to limit the time students spend on tests, a shift after years of promoting the importance of assessments as tools to measure quality and to close the achievement gap.) There was less emphasis on increasing access to the SAT in Connecticut, because, even before the change was made, 83 percent of the state’s high school graduates already took the SAT.
In New York City, on the other hand, the SAT will be voluntary and aimed very much at increasing college applications. Only 56 percent of the class of 2015 took the SAT at least once, according to the Education Department.
City officials pointed on Monday to the success of a similar program for the Preliminary SAT exams. The Education Department began offering that test free during the school day in 2007 to sophomores and juniors, and has since seen almost a threefold increase in the number of students who participate. The city will continue to offer the preliminary exam to sophomores, while offering the SAT to juniors.
While the SAT will not be given in classrooms citywide until the next school year, the exam will be given to 15,000 students this spring to test the program. In the spring of 2015, the Education Department said about 6,000 participated in a pilot program.