Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Fariña Celebrate First-Ever Sat School Day, Part of Equity and Excellence's College Access for All

April 3, 2017

Up to 70,000 High School Juniors Able to Take Free SAT During the School Day

NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Fariña today visited Queens Vocational and Technical High School to rally juniors participating in the first-ever citywide SAT School Day this Wednesday, April 5. All high school juniors will be able to take the SAT during the school day free of charge this school year. 

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 Equity and Excellence for All agenda aims to ensure that by 2026, 80 percent of students graduate high school on time and two-thirds of graduates are college ready.

Building on record-high graduation rates, record-low dropout rates, and a high-quality pre-K seat for every New York City 4-year-old, Equity and Excellence for All is creating a path from pre-K to college and careers for every child in every neighborhood in New York City.

“By making the SAT available as part of the course of the normal school day, we are eliminating barriers that too often stand in the way of opportunity,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This is making a very real difference for our high school students who should never be held back because of the cost of the SAT or because they can’t make it to the exam on a Saturday.”  

“As the first person in my family to attend college, I understand how important SAT School Day can be – this is a game-changer,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “I wish all our juniors good luck on Wednesday. This is just one part of our commitment to providing all our students – from pre-K through 12 – with the instruction and support they need to succeed in college and careers.”

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 College Access for All initiative and Equity and Excellence goals. Research has also demonstrated that SAT School Day broadens opportunities for all students and particularly for Hispanic and African-American students.

To facilitate the first-ever citywide SAT School Day, the City piloted free SAT administration for juniors during the day at 40 high schools in Spring 2015 and at 91 high schools in Spring 2016. This has driven an 8.2 percentage point increase in juniors taking the SAT over the past two years – including 12.1 percentage points among black students and 10.2 percentage points among Hispanic students. For the first time over 50 percent of an NYC high school junior class – the Class of 2017 – has taken the SAT.

The pilot also supported the creation of an SAT School Day Toolkit, which was provided to schools with guidance on test preparation and planning leading up to testing day, test administration, and activities for non-testing grades. Through the PSAT School Day, all sophomores are also able to take the PSAT during the school day free of charge. The PSAT School Day began in 2007 and has is now part of the SAT School Day at many schools; approximately 55,000 sophomores will be able to take the PSAT free of charge on Wednesday. Approximately 15,000 sophomores already took the PSAT this fall.

While the PSAT School Day has led to a nearly threefold increase in the number of students taking that exam, not all students have taken advantage of the PSAT School Day. Some eligible juniors and sophomores may not take the SAT or PSAT on Wednesday.

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. College Access for All is also supporting new training and funding for 100 high schools to build a schoolwide college and career culture. Queens Vocational and Technical High School is among these schools; the juniors that Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña met today just returned from an overnight trip to four colleges in Pennsylvania and Delaware funded through College Access for All.

From Pre-K for All to College Access for All, 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 pre-K for every four-year-old through 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.

More information on the SAT School Day is available online.

“SAT School Day helps eliminate obstacles many public school students face when pursuing higher education,” said NYC Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm. “For many NYC children, the path to college is fraught with difficulties. Too often, financial hardship, language and other barriers are insurmountable challenges. I commend Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña for spearheading this effort which will make college more accessible to all. I look forward to working with the administration to expand this important initiative.”

“Making the SAT available for free during a normal school day is a practical, positive step that will make college more accessible for all students,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I wish all our students good luck, and I commend the mayor and chancellor for moving forward with this program.”

“Best of luck to all of Brooklyn's young scholars taking the SAT, advancing their commitment to success on their journey to college and career. Offering this examination free to our city’s high school juniors is indicative of a greater push for equity in opportunity, as we work to open the halls of higher education to every talented and hard-working New Yorker,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

“SAT School Day is a key part of our College Access for All initiative, helping schools support all of our students to explore multiple choices and plan for their future,” said Phil Weinberg, Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning. “We know that far too often, unnecessary financial and logistical barriers have kept many students from accessing the opportunities that come with taking the SAT. Now, all juniors will be able to complete one of the critical stepping stones to college and careers, in their own school and free of charge.”

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