In a provocative attempt to keep D.C. public school students focused on their futures, D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D) is sponsoring a bill that requires all students to take a standardized college admission test and then apply to attend at least one college or post-secondary institution.
Under the legislation, which Brown will introduce at Wednesday's council meeting, all 70,000 students who attend D.C. public and charter schools will have to take either the SAT or ACT test before graduating from high school. The bill would also require all high school students to apply to “at least one post-secondary institution,” even if they do not plan on continuing their education.
“It's clear, when you look at jobs available in the District, many require a minimum of a college degree,” said Brown, who also oversees education issues for the council. “The idea is to increase graduation rates and get more young folks who want to go college, college-ready.”
During a news briefing Monday morning, Brown fielded numerous questions from reporters about how the legislation would work, including whether financial assistance would be available to students who could not afford to pay for college applications or SAT and ACT fees. Brown said the bill would be refined as it works its way through the legislative process, but that the city would most likely make sure poor students have a way to meet the requirements.
Brown said it's imperative that D.C. public schools, with a drop-out rate of 43 percent, standardize how students view post-secondary education. He noted that some charter schools already require students to prepare for the SAT or ACT and apply for college.
"I'm not saying everyone should go to college, but my goodness, we have to get more young folks prepared to go to college if they want to go to college," Brown said in an interview. “A lot of them don’t even know how to prepare and apply to college.”
According to Brown, 11 states mandate that high school students take either the SAT or ACT exams. But it was not immediately known whether any other state mandates that a student apply to a post-secondary institution prior to graduation from high school.