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NEW PSAT given in high schools today

Did you know that the PSAT was given during school hours today Wednesday October 14, 2015?  Did your 11th grader take the NEW PSAT today?

My KHS senior took the PSAT in 10th grade, as recommended by her teachers, in order to prepare to take the SAT in 11th grade.  The test was administered on a Saturday morning.  I distinctly remember having to leave home very early to get my daughter to the test.  KHS students were notified this year that only 200 11th graders would be able to take the PSAT and it would be administered during school hours.

The PSAT is a practice test which allows students to become acquainted with the types of questions that they will face on the SAT which they will be taking in the spring of 11th grade.  There will be a new format to the SAT in the spring and the PSAT has been redesigned to give students practice for the new test.  The PSAT will be administered on Wednesday, October 14th at KHS.  This test will only be available for 11th graders and we have a limit of 200 students who will be able to take the exam.  In the past, KHS has always offered the PSAT on a Saturday, however this year the College Board is only offering the PSAT during the school day.  This has placed some constraints on our ability to administer this test, which is why it is only being administered to the 11th grade students.

I just checked the school district website and apparently the test was opened to 10th graders but this occurred sometime after the KHS Back-to-School Night on October 1 and I didn’t happen to see the change until today.  Hopefully 10th grade students who did want to take the PSAT realized they could sign up.

PSAT Information

The PSAT will be administered on Wednesday, October 14th at KHS, periods 1-5.  We are now opening registration to 10th graders on a 1st come 1st serve basis. We only have 200 slots for this test. Students can register for the test in the Guidance Office. The fee is $15, cash or checks made payable to Kingston High School. Students will be given an admission ticket and a booklet that contains a practice test and test-taking tips and strategies.

Here are some articles on the redesign of the SAT:

Whether the redesign of the PSAT/SAT turns out to be ‘good’ or not, my question is how did the College Board, a private organization, get the authority to decide a change is in order for colleges to know whether students are ‘college-ready’ or not and also dictate how students here in Kingston will spend their academic hours (taking the PSAT test today).  I don’t remember local or state discussions giving this authority to the College Board – did I miss them?

This article from New Canaan, Connecticut reporting that the governor and Connecticut state department of education are planning to require all 11th grade students to take the SAT as their mandatory 11th grade assessment this school year gives me even greater cause for concern.

Moreover, many families and students are learning that the 2016 SAT is completely new, and essentially experimental. The College Board (under the direction of the Common Core creator, David Coleman) has revised this test to align with the Common Core standards. Ironically, the new version of the SAT will have many of the same shortcomings as the 11th Grade SBAC. It has limited reliability and validity, is based on controversial standards, and experts are predicting a drop in scores for at least a few test administrations. Having a student take it willingly and knowingly is one matter. But announcing that all students must sit during the school day for this two-hour assessment, replete with issues, which will impact their transcript, all while there is an alternative, is unfair.

Furthermore, many colleges are offering test flexibility when it comes to the college-entrance process and are looking for more holistic approaches to evaluating students. According to U.S. News and World Report, 195 of the 850 test-flexible universities are deemed top-tier schools.  Considering that high school grades and course choice are better indicators of college readiness than standardized tests, this flexibility makes sense. Clearly, the long-held belief that taking the SAT is the only gateway to obtaining a college education is no longer the reality.

UPDATE October 15, 2015 12:30am:  Good grief!  ELL students in New York City HAD to take the PSAT today?!?

The College Board needs everyone to Be Accountable. That’s why they sent the application material to the school, for thousands of kids, and gave only three days to prepare. In our school, the ESL students are given the materials to fill out in class so they don’t have to do so right before the test. And this is indeed a job. First of all, I only got the materials yesterday.

Here’s the thing with kids who don’t understand English–it isn’t easy to get them to follow directions. So yesterday, in my morning class, I organized all the students who had to take the exam. Then I started to explain what they had to do and wouldn’t you know it? They didn’t understand.


I’m glad we got through this, but I question how much my non-English speakers benefit from sitting through a grueling exam with instructions far too difficult to follow. Is it that important for NYC to support College Board and its near-monopoly on testing? When is College Board, or New York State, or someone going to acknowledge that kids who don’t know English have distinctly different learning priorities and needs than those who do?

Or is that too much to ask?

Turns out all New York City public school students in grades 10 and 11 take the PSAT for free (whether it will benefit them in any way or not).  Families don’t have to register the students and I wonder if parents even know the test is taking place?  Probably not for the ELL families.

I guess my concerns that New York students might be required to take the SAT, like is happening in Connecticut, aren’t as far-fetched as I thought they probably were.  If New York City students HAVE to take the PSAT, is the SAT really that far behind?

3 thoughts on “NEW PSAT given in high schools today”

  1. No, I absolutely had no idea. But, I wonder if you could register that late. Registration closes, even with a late fee, more than two weeks before the test. Two of the boys took it in ninth too, just as prep.

    1. Jen,
      I don’t know why or how NYC gives the PSAT for free. As I have thought about it though since posting last night, I realized that there are benefits of taking the PSAT besides just preparation for taking the SAT. In particular students get on college mailing lists (some may not consider that a benefit if ‘junk mail’ is an issue!), can access College Board tools about college and get entered in the National Merit Scholarship competition if they take the PSAT in 11th grade (but not 10th grade or below).

      from http://schools.nyc.gov/Accountability/resources/testing/default.htm#PSAT
      Preliminary SAT (PSAT)
      City public school students in grades 10 and 11 may take the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) for free in the fall. The PSAT assesses students’ verbal and math skills. It helps put students on track for college success by giving them practice for the SAT exams, which many colleges require for admission. It also gives students access to college and career planning tools and the chance to enter the National Merit Scholarship competition. Schools administer the PSAT to their students; families do not need to register students or make a special request to participate in the test.

      I still don’t like a private institution like the College Board having control over the academic school calendar (being able to say that the test has to be administered on a school day).

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