By Molly Congdon
CLIFTON PARK — On Oct. 14, Shenendehowa sophomores and juniors were able to take the PSAT during the school day instead of coming in on a Saturday.
Recently the College Board completely redesigned both the PSAT and the SAT. “The world needs more people who can solve problems, communicate clearly and understand complex relationships,” the College Board website states. “The tests measure the same skill and knowledge in ways that make sense for different grade levels, so it’s easier for students, parents and educators to monitor student progress.”
The testing style isn’t the only change this year. “About a year ago the college board decided that they wanted to administer the PSATs only on two Wednesdays for this school year, the 14th and the 21st,” Shenendehowa High School Principal Don Flynt said. “They have to take them in a school.”
He continued: “The decision was, do we give them or do we expect kids to go to other school districts who are giving them, who may or may not let the kids take them there. It was a pretty easy decision. I think that the difficulty of making a decision was, who do we give them to? Just to juniors or do we give them to tenth-graders?”
They decided on both.
“We saw it as an opportunity to get more kids than ever to take it,” Flynt said. “We typically might get 500 or so juniors and 150 sophomores to take it. It’s a practice SAT and it’s also a national merit qualifying test for juniors. For sophomores, it’s more ‘let me understand what it is I don’t know so that I might be able to formulate my academic plan a little differently.’ ”
The students who decided to take the exam didn’t have to pay a dime. “The Board of Education and the superintendent build that into the budget last year, that they would pay for the PSAT for any kid who wants to take it,” he said. “Increasing the likelihood that kids would take it.”
The PSAT offers several benefits for both students and staff. “First is, this is a new PSAT, completely redesigned, so they had an opportunity to see the redesigned test before the upcoming redesigned SAT, which most juniors will take in the spring,” Flynt said. “It also can be used as a diagnostic for us; it can identify gaps in student learning as it relates to our curriculum so if there’s a particular area that kids are falling short in, that data will jump out at us. Plus it’s also a measure, to a degree, of college and career readiness.”