Team BCPS is launching Blueprint 2.0 initiatives to prepare students to graduate globally competitive. Success in the world’s rapidly-changing economy requires a broad set of future-focused skills, knowledge and behaviors. For example, the Alliance for Excellent Education estimates that over 60 percent of jobs will require some postsecondary education by 2018, whereas a high school diploma was sufficient career preparation in the past. In April 2013, BCPS charted a new path toward better college preparation for every student with SAT Day.
Not taking the SAT limits opportunities for students to attend four-year colleges. While college admission decisions are based on a variety of factors, a conservative estimate indicates that 73.0% of four-year colleges require an admission test. Ideally, students take the SAT more than once, during junior and senior years of high school. But we found that during the 2011-2012 school year, only 37.8% of Grade 11 students took the SAT, ranging from 71.6% participation at one school to 10.7% at another.
Why not make this college prep step just another part of the school day to demonstrate a clear connection with the future? Last spring, Grade 11 BCPS students became the first in the state to take the SAT during the school day without cost at all 24 high schools. Schools removed the barriers of cost, registration, and weekend scheduling and transportation.
As a result, 84.0% of Baltimore County Grade 11 students took the SAT on April 17, which is more than twice the proportion of Grade 11 students who took the SAT on several test dates in 2011-2012. School participation ranged from 99.0% to 65.4% of students. At 11 schools, SAT participation at least tripled. The SAT participation rate for students participating in the free and reduced-price meals program almost quadrupled from 21.2% to 81.9%.
School leaders indicated that students were excited to take the SAT and motivated to do well. Juniors can decide to send their scores to up to four colleges or universities for free, and once registered to take the test, they can access free online test preparation tools. Younger students now know that they’ll get their chance to try the SAT during junior year.
While many more students took the SAT, the Grade 11 average score decreased only 15% from 1571 in 2011-2012 to 1335 on SAT Day 2013. The BCPS goal for Grade 12 students is a score of 1650. Now that most Grade 11 students take the SAT, the average score represents one measure of student access to the rigorous preschool though high school learning opportunities envisioned in Blueprint 2.0. SAT Day has prompted important conversations about expectations for students and the rigor of our courses.
Team BCPS is putting college access on every student’s radar. SAT Day is just a small part of developing a college-going culture with high expectations and strong preparation for every student. Related supports for students and families include the AVID program, school-based SAT preparation courses, access to online SAT preparation from the College Board, Naviance software for college and career planning, college course-taking during high school, and Senior College Application Bootcamp.
Get ready, juniors. SAT Day 2014 will be here before we know it!