State paying for PSAT helps students excell

Guest submission from
Ed Dennis
Deputy Superintendent
Oregon Department of Education

A recent post [on Oregon Catalyst] questioned the value of Oregon paying for the PSAT for all students that want to take it. Although this might not sound like a traditional education service, I wanted to give Oregon Catalyst readers an understanding of why we are making this test available to all Oregon 10th graders.

I was a poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks so I get excited when I see this kind of commitment to equity. For many kids, even today, going on to college is never something they consider as an option. They may see the value of a college degree, but not have any idea of how they can achieve it.

By making it possible for all students to take the Preliminary SAT in 10th grade, we are providing the tools for that student to achieve success, gain access to college and create a better future for themselves. The test offers resources to students to help them plan for college — what courses to take, where their strengths lie and the steps they need to take to submit a successful application. Every students receives free access to an online planning tool that provides interactive feedback on their test score, a customized study plan for taking the SAT, as well as connecting students with personalized list of potential schools, majors and careers. Educators, in turn, receive data analysis of their students’ scores, a summary of answers and skills assessments, as well as potential Advance Placement opportunities for that student.

All of these benefits come at a cost of just $13 per student, a smart investment by our Legislature in preparing our students for education beyond high school. We know we must do more to help our children secure a college degree and/or career training that will help them succeed in an ever more competitive global economy. This test is an important resource in putting them on that path to success.