Offering free college entrance exams can boost participation
- More than three-quarters of New York City 11th graders took the SAT last spring, a 25% increase that city leaders are attributing to a new initiative that allows students to take the college entrance exam for free, Chalkbeat reports.
- The effort, costing $2.2 million, is intended to get more low-income students to take the exam, and they can also take the ACT if they choose.
- Even with the increase in students taking the exam, there are still gaps in students’ scores, with white 11th graders scoring at least 100 points higher than black students and 94 points higher than Latino students in math, according to the article.
Providing the opportunity to take the SAT or the ACT at school eliminates barriers — such as registering for the exam, paying a fee, and showing up early at school on a Saturday morning — that exist for some students and families. The Long Beach Unified School District also began implementing a free SAT program last year.
Districts that can’t afford to cover the expense of the exams for all students can seek support from the business and philanthropic communities. In Arizona, for example, the Helios Education Foundation has been covering the costs of ACT exams since 2009. The initiative began with eight districts and has since expanded to 83 schools in 18 districts, including Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma.
Districts can also point students to free resources to prepare for exams. The College Board noted last year that it has seen gains in scores among those using the Khan Academy’s free tutoring program.
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