Chancellor Fariña Announces 51 Percent Increase In Number Of High School Juniors Taking SAT Exams

January 11, 2018

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña today announced a record-high 61,800 high school juniors taking the SAT exam, a 51 percent increase from last year. 

The record-high participation comes as a result of the first-ever SAT School Day – in Spring 2017, all New York City high school juniors were able to take the SAT free of charge during the school day. The SAT School Day is part of College Access for All, a key initiative in Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña’s Equity and Excellence for All agenda.

The SAT participation gap between Black and Hispanic students and their white and Asian peers decreased significantly:

  • A record-high 74.7 percent of Black juniors took the SAT, a 27.4 point increase over 2016
  • A record-high 73.6 percent of Hispanic juniors took the SAT, a 28.1 point increase over 2016
  • A record-high 83.0 percent of white juniors took the SAT, a 21.5 point increase over 2016
  • A record-high 89.4 percent of Asian juniors took the SAT, a 16.4 point increase over 2016

In total, 9,063 more Hispanic juniors took the SAT than in 2016, and 6,151 more Black juniors took the SAT than in 2016. 

The Chancellor made the announcement on the City’s third-annual College Awareness Day, on which schools serving grades 3-K through 12 across all five boroughs participate in college and career-themed events and activities to promote a college-going culture.

“With more NYC students taking the SAT than ever before, our efforts to eliminate any barriers on any child’s path to college and careers are working,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “These results represent important progress and outline real improvements across the five boroughs. Congratulations to our students, their families and devoted educators for this critical step forward.”

“As the first in my family to go to college, I understand the message that initiatives like SAT School Day and College Awareness Day send to our students – we believe they have the potential to go to college, and we’re going to give them the support and resources to get there,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “I am excited to see a record number of students taking the SAT as a result of the SAT School Day, and in particular, to see the SAT participation gap shrinking. We’ll continue to build on record-high graduation rates, college enrollment, and college readiness rates with our Equity and Excellence for All agenda.”

The citywide 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 and career culture – students envisioning and thinking about college and career planning throughout their high school career. Research has demonstrated the importance of strong college and career culture, and it is critical to the success of the Mayor and Chancellor’s Equity and Excellence for All agenda. Research has also demonstrated that SAT School Day broadens opportunities for all students and particularly for Hispanic and Black students.

SAT participation for New York City seniors also increased significantly – a record-high 50,948 seniors in the Class of 2017 took the SAT at least once during their four years of high school. This 9.3 percent increase from the prior year was driven by the 2016 pilot of the SAT School Day at 91 high schools. As with high school juniors, the SAT participation gap between Black and Hispanic students and their white and Asian peers decreased significantly.

New York City students’ overall scores on the SAT test are not comparable to results in previous years, because the test changed in March 2016. For New York City seniors in the Class of 2017, the average SAT Evidence-Based Reading & Writing score was 498, and the average SAT Math score was 499. For New York City juniors, the average SAT Evidence-Based Reading & Writing score was 490, and the average SAT Math score was 494.

Earlier this year, Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña announced:

  • The highest-ever high school graduation rate – 72.6 percent of the Class of 2016.
  • The highest-ever postsecondary enrollment rate – 57 percent of the Class of 2016.
  • The highest-ever number of New York City students taking and passing Advanced Placement exams in 2017, with a 9.9 percent jump in students taking at least one AP and 7.5 percent jump in students passing at least one AP over the previous year.
  • The highest-ever college readiness rate – 46 percent of all students, and 62 percent of graduates, in the Class of 2017 graduated high school on time and met CUNY’s standards for college readiness in English and math.

SAT School Day and College Awareness Day are critical pieces of continuing this progress, and are part of the College Access for All initiative.

For College Awareness Day, Chancellor Fariña visited Hamilton Grange Middle School in Harlem, which transformed into “Hamilton Grange University” for the day. Students can attend college-inspired classes like “Introduction to Logic,” “Interpretive Storytelling,” and “Gender and Societal Expectations 101,” and hear from college students about what college is like. Other special College Awareness Day activities include a family college visit to York College in Queens, a district-wide college pep rally in District 16 in Brooklyn, and alumni visits to approximately 20 middle schools across the City.

“A record-high number of juniors taking the SAT – now in their school and free of charge – means we have increased access to college and career choices. As a former principal, I know how critical it is for SAT School Day to be not only about taking an exam, but rather about creating the environment that enables students to envision and plan for their future. It is a key part of our College Access for All initiative, which supports schools in breaking down barriers and ensuring college and career planning is at the heart of their community,” said Phil Weinberg, Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning.

“It used to be that only some New York City students made it to the SAT on the weekend, with too many students unable to take the test. Now, thanks to our partnership with the City, all juniors are able to take the SAT at no cost during the school day,” said David Coleman, College Board President and CEO. “This new data is significant. It means that many more New York students are benefitting from free, personalized SAT practice on Khan Academy and from college application fee waivers, propelling them into college.”

“It’s tremendous that SAT School Day was able to boost the SAT test-taking rate by more than 50% in its first year,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “The Equity and Excellence for All program promoted by Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña deserves huge thanks for identifying and eliminating barriers to SAT participation, and helping create a culture and tradition of college attendance – as it is today with College Awareness Day.”

“The increase in students taking the SAT is long overdue,” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan. “Thank you to Chancellor Carmen Fariña for your leadership in making the right investments for our students. I have witnessed how these policies have reduced the achievement gap, ensured that our students’ receive a fair basic education, and encouraged more of our students to envision themselves attending four-year colleges and universities, as evidenced by this increase.”

Through College Access for All, by 2018-19, every middle school student will have the opportunity to visit a college campus and every high school student will graduate with an individual college and career plan. The initiative has also eliminated the CUNY college application fee for low-income students.

Together, the Equity and Excellence for All initiatives are building a pathway to success in college and careers for all students. Our schools are starting earlier – free, full-day, high-quality education for three-year-olds and four-year-olds through 3-K for All and Pre-K for All. They are strengthening foundational skills and instruction earlier – Universal Literacy so that every student is reading on grade level by the end of 2nd grade; and Algebra for All to improve elementary- and middle-school math instruction and ensure that all 8th graders have access to algebra. They are offering students more challenging, hands-on, college and career-aligned coursework – Computer Science for All brings 21st-century computer science instruction to every school, and AP for All will give all high school students access to at least five Advanced Placement courses. Along the way, they are giving students and families additional support through College Access for All, Single Shepherd, and investment in Community Schools. Efforts to create more diverse and inclusive classrooms through Diversity in New York City Public Schools, the City’s school diversity plan, are central to this pathway.

More information on SAT participation and performance is available online.

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