An increasing number of school districts and charter school organizations in California are offering either the SAT or ACT, the other college readiness test, for free to all high school juniors. Newly published research concluded that one benefit — a statistically significant increase in four-year college enrollment — shows the effort is a smart investment.
In 2016-17, 22 districts offered the SAT for free, compared with only four districts two years earlier, according to the College Board, which administers the SAT. An additional six districts, plus 10 charter school organizations and Catholic schools and a county office of education, offered the ACT for free last year. Together, they include some of the state’s largest districts and charters: Santa Ana and Aspire Public Schools (ACT), and Long Beach, Fresno, San Jose and Oakland (SAT).
Superintendents say administering the test during the school day to all students has sharply increased the numbers of students who take it — especially among low-income students. SAT and ACT charge $42 per student for the basic test, about $60 with an essay, although districts can negotiate a discount. Long Beach paid $36 per student, according to the district.
Superintendents say a free SAT or ACT for all juniors also helps raise aspirations for all students.
“We see it as valuable,” said Richard Sheehan, superintendent of Covina-Valley Unified District in Los Angeles County, which introduced the SAT for all two years ago. “It creates a high level of expectations, part of our culture of college and career readiness,” and helped raise the percentage of…
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