Chancellor Fariña Aannounces NYC Offer Free SAT

October 26, 2015

Schools Chancellor Carmen FariñaChancellor Fariña today announced that New York City will offer the SAT exam free of charge to all students during the school day in the spring of their high school junior year, starting in the 2016-17 school year.

By expanding opportunity to all New York City high school students, the new SAT School Day initiative will address disparities among students preparing for and taking critical college access exams and builds on the success of New York City’s PSAT School Day, which began in 2007 and has led to a nearly threefold increase in the number of students taking that exam. SAT School Day is a critical part of College Access for All, a citywide initiative to ensure equity and excellence in college access and planning opportunities for all students.

The Chancellor announced the initiative at the High School of Fashion Industries in Manhattan to kick off College Application Week, a coordinated national week-long effort focused on college planning and application activities for high school students. This year, the High School of Fashion Industries is one of 298 schools participating in College Application Week – the City’s third year in the program – nearly double the 161 schools that participated last year. High School of Fashion Industries is also participating in a pilot of the new SAT School Day.

“The opportunity to go to college should never be decided by students’ backgrounds or zip codes. The new SAT School Day and the expansion of College Application Week demonstrate our commitment to providing every student with the support and resources they need to pursue college,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “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. All across New York City, our schools must offer students the College Access for All opportunities that can help them make good decisions and reach their potential.”

“We are thrilled to lead a whole City effort to increase college readiness and promote a strong college-going culture in every school,” said Deputy Chancellor Phil Weinberg. “Our focus is to deliver rigorous, high-quality instruction from the moment students enter pre-K to the moment they graduate high school college-ready and with knowledge of all the opportunities that are available to them. Today’s announcement is a stepping stone on the path we are creating to increase access to post secondary success for every single high school student through our College Access for All initiative.”

The new SAT School Day and expanded College Application Week are part of the College Access for All initiative, announced last month in the Mayor’s plan for equity and excellence in education. Through College Access for All, every student will have the resources and supports at their high school to pursue a path to college. This can include schools providing students with opportunities to visit a college campus, get help completing applications, be paired with a college student who can serve as a mentor, or receive support in setting a strategy with their family on how they will afford college. Additionally, every middle school student will have the opportunity to visit a college campus.

Research has shown that SAT School Day broadens opportunities for all students and particularly for Hispanic and African-American students.

The new SAT School Day removes a number of barriers to SAT participation for students: individually registering for the test; requesting a fee waiver; traveling to an unfamiliar location; and having to take the test on a Saturday, when students and families may have other obligations. Incorporating the SAT as a school activity also promotes a strong college-going culture, encouraging students to think about college planning and college admissions assessments throughout their high school career. Research has shown that SAT School Day broadens opportunities for all students and particularly for Hispanic and African-American students.

“More New York City students will have a path to college through the SAT School Day program. Previously, only some students, no matter how talented, made it to the SAT on the weekend. Now, all students will take the SAT during the school day, which evidence shows has a deep impact on college access. Research shows SAT School Day administration has resulted in higher four-year college-going rates, particularly among first-generation college-bound students. In addition, students taking the SAT will each receive personalized practice accounts on Khan Academy and college application fee waivers if they need them. We thank the Mayor and Chancellor for extending access to SAT School Day and all the benefits that come with it,” said College Board President David Coleman.

“I applaud Chancellor Fariña for providing the SAT exam to all students free of charge to address current disparities among many of our hardworking children and families,” said Public Advocate Tish James. “No student should miss out on an opportunity for a better future because they are unable to afford a college entrance exam. We must continue to strive to provide our students with the best opportunities for college and careers, regardless of their socioeconomic status.”

“I congratulate Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña on their efforts to increase college access,” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee. “It is so important that New York City’s students get access to the resources and opportunities they so richly deserve.”

“This is a smart, practical initiative,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Ensuring each and every New York City public school student has the opportunity to take the SAT is another step toward putting higher education within every student’s reach.”

“As city officials and educators, we must do all that we can to ensure that our public school students are prepared for higher education,” said NYC Council Education Committee Chair Daniel Dromm. “Thanks to these new reforms implemented by the NYC Department of Education in recognition of National College Application Week, students will no longer be forced to travel long distances to other schools or pay a fee in order to take the SAT, an exam that most colleges require for their application process.  I thank Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña for removing these potential barriers, thereby encouraging more students to take the SAT by making the process easier and cost-free. I will continue to work with her to provide our young people with greater access to the academic and career opportunities they need in order to thrive after high school graduation.”

To facilitate the transition to the SAT School Day, the DOE piloted SAT administration during school to 6,000 students at 40 pilot schools in Spring 2015. 92 schools will participate in the pilot SAT School Day in Spring 2016 – approximately 15,000 students. These pilot years will ensure smooth implementation of the citywide SAT School Day in Spring 2017.

As part of the transition, the PSAT School Day – through which sophomores and juniors take the exam each October – will become part of the new SAT School Day: sophomores will now take the PSAT free of charge on the same day juniors take the SAT in the spring.

As part of efforts to strengthen college culture across all high school grades, the DOE will work with schools to develop college access activities for 9th and 12th graders – like college trips for 9th graders and college transition workshops for 12th graders – on SAT School Day while sophomores and juniors are taking the exam. The DOE will begin offering professional development around logistics and implementation of the SAT School Day to all high schools this spring, and will also provide support and communicate with parents and families about the initiative. The expected yearly cost of the citywide SAT School Day is $1.8 million.

As part of College Access for All, 298 high schools across every borough are participating in College Application Week this week – in comparison to 161 schools last year – reflecting the DOE’s increased outreach and support for College Access for All. High schools are participating in expanded and new DOE-organized citywide events like a virtual college fair and college essay workshop, and have also received support in planning school-based activities.

Among the confirmed College Application Week activities across the 298 high schools are:

  • A Citywide virtual college fair on Thursday, Oct. 29, giving students the opportunity to have live online conversations with admission officers and students from CUNY, SUNY and over 100 higher education institutions. Students and families can register online here.
  • College essay workshop at John Jay College, where 80 students from across the City will receive coaching from admissions experts on crafting essays for scholarships and admissions. All NYC students are eligible to receive free online college essay support throughout this week and school year.
  • The release of an updated DOE College Planning Handbook, which provides detailed information to help students apply to college, obtain financial aid, and transition to college
  • CUNY and SUNY-led workshops, where CUNY and SUNY representatives will answer questions and help students complete applications
  • Application sessions and challenges, where seniors will work on their applications and receive support from college advisors, staff, and volunteers – from “College Crunch Night” at a school in Downtown Brooklyn to “College Application Help Parties,” where students at a Staten Island school meet 1-on-1 with their college counselor
  • Alumni panels, where former graduates will share their college experiences and offer college planning advice
  • Events focused on 9th, 10th, and 11th-graders, including SAT and College Now registration and information sessions around graduation and transcript requirements 

More information about College Application Week is available here.

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