These districts use the SAT Suite of Assessments to make a difference in students' lives.
Long Beach Unified School District Superintendent Chris Steinhauser reports that in recent years, more of his students, particularly African American students, are ready for college when they graduate and that the SAT Suite of Assessments has been instrumental in their success.
"The SAT Suite is a key part of our work to improve educational equity among our diverse population of students," he says. "These assessments help students make informed choices and help staff provide each student with customized support."
Long Beach, the third-largest district in California, has given the SAT free to all students since 2015 and the PSAT/NSMQT since 2009. Its students can also take the PSAT 8/9 in 8th and 9th grades, which gives educators early feedback. They can identify skills students need to work on to be ready for the SAT—and college. The district dedicates time during the school day to build skills on Official SAT Practice and uses contests and personalized letters to motivate students.
Steinhauser is pleased to see student gains on state university admission index scores, which are based on GPA and SAT scores. In 2018, 900 Long Beach graduates went on to attend California State University, up from 500 four years ago. In his district, 44% of African American students in the class of 2018 met the minimum CSU Index score for admission. In the class of 2015, only 30% of African American students qualified.
Here's some additional data on African American students in Long Beach's class of 2018:
- SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing scores were 68 points higher, on average, than PSAT/NMSQT scores.
- SAT Math scores were 55 points higher, on average, than PSAT/NMSQT scores.
- The percentage of students who met the SAT college and career readiness benchmark for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing was 3% higher than that of the class of 2017.
- The percentage of students who met the SAT college and career readiness benchmark for math was 2% higher than that of the class of 2017.
For Jennifer Ertel, higher SAT scores are just the beginning.
"The SAT Suite of Assessments is at the heart of our college-going culture. It has opened countless doors and opportunities," says Ertel, senior manager of innovation and postsecondary programming for the Houston Independent School District (HISD). "The success of our students is not measured by scores increased, but by lives transformed."
The district has seen many benefits since it began administering the SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, and PSAT 8/9 to students in grades 8–12:
- More students are ready for college when they graduate.
- 78% of students apply to college, up from 59% before HISD adopted the SAT Suite.
- Scholarship and financial aid awards quadrupled in the last three years.
- Students are using Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy® and increasing their scores substantially.
Practice Pays Off
Over 1,200 students in the class of 2018 scored at least 100 points higher on the SAT than on the PSAT/NMSQT after linking their scores to Official SAT Practice, including 20% of the class’s English learners. In fact, the student with the highest score gain (530 points) was an English learner who went on to become an Official SAT Practice Ambassador.
HISD excelled by making SAT practice a top priority.
Tactics used to encourage students:
- In the Khanathlon challenge, schools with the most students linking accounts and logging practice hours won funding for college tours.
- 11th graders especially active on Official SAT Practice can apply for a $500 You Khan Do It scholarship.
- Official SAT Practice Ambassadors provide peer coaching.
- Teachers attend trainings that focus on techniques for coaching students to success on Official SAT Practice.
The SAT Suite helps the district identify students who will benefit from AP courses and enrichment programs. AP Potential™ indicates which students are likely to succeed in specific courses based on their reading, writing, and math scores. HISD educators use the free tool to recruit strategically.
The district also uses PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 8/9 scores to identify low-income, high-achieving students early enough to participate in its EMERGE program. EMERGE empowers students from underrepresented communities and prepares them to attend and graduate from selective colleges. One participant in the class of 2018, Michael Brown, was accepted by over 20 of the most competitive U.S. colleges. Since adopting the SAT Suite of Assessments, the district has increased participation in EMERGE by 175%.
District administrators, teachers, and students talk about how Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy prepared students for the SAT and college.
Bloomfield High School was one of Connecticut's five poorest performing high schools in 2011. On the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT), only 9.8% of tenth graders scored at or above the reading goal. Only 13.1% scored at or above the math goal. A new superintendent, Dr. James Thompson Jr., put into place a comprehensive data-driven plan emphasizing accountability and a challenging curriculum aligned to state standards. Student scores improved within a year.
SAT Suite tests and tools are central to Bloomfield’s continued progress. The school has administered the SAT and PSAT/NMSQT since the fall of 2013. It now administers the PSAT 10 and PSAT 8/9 as well.
The tests give teachers the data they need to focus on content and skills for college and career success. All teachers emphasize critical thinking and close reading. They support numeracy in every content area by creating questions that require abstract reasoning, quantitative thinking, data analysis, and problem solving. The SAT Suite's subscores and cross-test scores inspired social studies and science teachers to teach and assess problem solving.
Focused instruction pays off. The class of 2019 saw higher-than-expected score gains. This class started high school with an average total score of 794 and went on to average 964 in 11th grade.