By: Karina Gamez & Josiah Gallop
Wednesday, October 10th will mark a historic move on the part of the JUHSD: all 12th graders in the school district will have the opportunity to take a free SAT. Additionally, 9th, 10th, and 11th graders will be testing that same day, too by taking some version of the PSAT. Now, why is this important?
Developed by The College Board, The Scholastic Aptitude Test, also known as the SAT, is a standardized test that is used for college admission decisions. In recent years, this exam has become very important because most universities use it as a way to measure a student’s overall academic excellence. Traditionally, students pay a registration cost that varies between $47-$67 and takes the exam on a Saturday. Our school is offering every student the exam for free.
“We actually made the decision last year,” says Dr. Terry Ann Deloria, the superintendent of the Jefferson Union High School District (JUHSD). “We are really putting a focus on closing gaps, especially opportunity gaps. If you look at the data on who actually takes the SAT, it is usually the well-resourced students who have parents who have gone to college. Then you see students who don’t participate: socioeconomically disadvantaged students of color.” Dr. Deloria also stated the free SAT will not be a one-time thing for our district, but from now on, will be happening on annual basis. She also hinted that the district is currently working on implementing a free PSAT/SAT prep course next year as well.
While a free SAT is likely to be well-received by our student body and their families, some students have concerns. The College Board has a policy that prevents students from taking the SAT twice within a one-month period. Rita Velazco, a 12th grader at Oceana High School, is one of the fifteen students who had already purchased the October SAT prior to knowing about the decision. “In general, I’m really happy that they are offering the free SAT here, and it is a great opportunity for a lot of people,” says Rita, “I just really wish they would have told us sooner. My parents were really, really mad when they found out about a free SAT. I called the school, the district, and the College Board and no one knew what to do.”
According to the College Board, “canceled registrations are partially refunded—you’ll get $10 back, whether you were signed up for the SAT or the SAT with Essay.” This is the reality students like Rita are now facing. Students also have the option to pay an additional $30 fee to the College Board in order to transfer one of their exams to a later month, which seems like the option most of the affected students are leaning towards.
When asked if the district could compensate these students on the $30 transfer fee, Dr. Deloria said, “I’m afraid not, but like I said, going forward, everyone will know this and plan accordingly.”
When asked what steps the district will take to ensure this miscommunication doesn’t happen again, Dr. Deloria said, “Perhaps, making a better communication plan, for everyone that needs to know. But the bottom line is, we are doing something that is opening the doors for all of the students. And I think the benefits of students far outweigh the inconveniences.”
However, there is another option. Florence Chang, an OHS 12th grader as well as the ASB senior class president, is leading efforts to help the fifteen students who were in having to pay the transfer fees. “It was kind of expected that district would not cover the cost for these students. And in ASB, we have decided to step up and support our students in a way that is meaningful to them.” That meaningful action: Use funds from the Senior Class Account to cover the transfer fees that the 15 students are currently being dealt with.
In order to receive reimbursement, “Students need to show proof of them transferring their SAT, and then we can reimburse them,” Florence says. Eventually, these 15 students will be notified that they have this opportunity to be reimbursed but in the meantime, the logistics are still be discussed with our school counselors.
“I know it’s really hard to organize big things like this and a student, I really appreciate the opportunity this grants,” described Florence. “But at the same time, I really do wish you could cover these costs because these are students and parents’ hard earned money that they are spending and it’s unfair that they should have to spend any more.”
For any further questions, you may have regarding the upcoming free SAT, feel free to ask Ms. Collins