Amarillo ISD’s 1,900 high school juniors will get the chance to take the SAT for free next month, and the school district is footing the bill.
Amarillo ISD budgeted about $100,000 to pay for the testing, said Tracey Morman, director of guidance and counseling for the district.
The funds also pay for every eighth-, tenth- and 11th-grade student to take a suite of PSAT tests to monitor student progress and readiness for the SAT, she said.
“We want to make sure that we help alleviate any barriers for all of our students for whatever their post-secondary readiness goals might be,” Morman said.
It will be the fourth year that the district has offered free testing for all juniors at all four of its high schools. The district started by piloting the program at Caprock High School.
On March 1, students will take the exam in class as part of the SAT School Day program.
College Board, a non-profit that designs the SAT, established the program in 2010, allowing schools to administer the SAT in class during a school day.
Previously, students had to pay about $50 and set aside a Saturday to visit a designated testing site such as Amarillo College.
The reason for the change was to improve access and also to reduce stress for test takers.
“They realized at some schools there’s transportation issues and realized that some kids might just do better in the environment in which they were previously learning,” Morman said.
“It’s the exact same test that you would take on a Saturday, but you just take it on a Wednesday at the school you currently attend,” she said.
More than 800,000 students will take the SAT through SAT School Day this school year, according to College Board.
The SAT is the standard for admission to most undergraduate programs at four-year universities, and it measures reading, writing and math skills. It is typically taken by high school juniors and seniors.
At West Texas A&M University, a student’s score on the SAT is combined with class rank to determine if the student is eligible for guaranteed admission. Test results are also used to determine scholarship awards.
The test is not a requirement for admission at Amarillo College, but academic credit can be awarded based on scores.
In 2016, the SAT underwent a redesign and now has fewer vocabulary words not used in everyday conversation. Also, the essay portion was made optional and the maximum score was changed from 2400 to 1600.