D.C. students will be able to take SAT for free this year

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the date when seniors will take the college entrance exam. The date is Oct. 16. This version has been corrected.

August 21, 2013

All juniors and seniors in the District’s public high schools, including those attending traditional and charter schools, will be able to take the SAT for free this year, Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced Tuesday.

The aim is to encourage more students to take the exam, which is required for application to many of the nation’s colleges.

“I’m so pleased that we are able to make this crucial college-
entrance exam more accessible to all of our students, making it easier for them to gain admission to institutions of higher education across the country,” Gray (D) said in a statement.

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education will pay for the tests, spending $224,084 to ensure that more than 7,300 students can register for the SAT for free. Registration normally costs each student $51, although fee waivers are available to low-income test-takers who submit required paperwork.

Traditionally administered on Saturdays, the exams will be offered at each of the city’s 34 high schools during school hours, another effort to ensure that more students sit for the test.

The changes build on existing efforts to expand D.C. teenagers’ access to the SAT, which is published by the College Board. Last year, the city’s traditional school system began offering the exams for free to all juniors.

“The SAT is the gateway to college for many students, but too often the cost is a tremendous barrier,” Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson said in a statement. “Making the SAT more accessible is great news for our students and their future success.”

Eligible students will receive vouchers at school that they can use to register online for the SAT beginning Sept. 4. Seniors have a scheduled exam date of Oct. 16, and juniors are scheduled to take the test on Feb. 26.

The District has seen high participation on the SAT, with 83 percent of the city’s high school seniors taking the exam in 2012. Only five states reported a higher percentage. In Maryland, 74 percent of seniors took the SAT last year; in Virginia, it was 72 percent.

Public school students in the District scored an average of 1184 out of a possible 2400 on the SAT in 2012, nearly 300 points below the national average.

Emma Brown writes about D.C. education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.
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