Amarillo, TX - The Amarillo Independent School District wants every student in their district to have access to the SAT.
This year, AISD spent about $65,000 so every junior in their district could take the test. More than 1,800 juniors at Tascosa, Palo Duro, Caprock and Amarillo high schools took the SAT on Wednesday for free. School district officials said their goal is to remove the barriers preventing students from taking the test.
"Statistically, we're a poor district," said AISD Board Vice President John Blanchard. "We have a number of students who have barriers to taking the SAT, whether it's transportation or economic. So for us to meet our mission in providing students a successful opportunity beyond high school, it is very important to provide this as a tool for them so that those who want to go to college have an opportunity."
Being able to take the SAT during school hours is a new initiative from College Board. Back in 2011, College Board chose Caprock High School as part of their pilot program for school-day testing. Once College Board approved the program, AISD wanted all their high school juniors to have the same opportunity for free testing.
"What that will allow them to do is to take away that cost so they're not worrying about having to ask, even if they qualify for a fee waiver, not having to ask for that. There's no stigma attached," explained Tracey Morman, the AISD director of guidance and counseling.
Providing the test during school hours also waives complications of traveling to test sites. "We have students that work on the weekends," said Morman. "They help provide for their families. Perhaps their family only has one vehicle so to get to a testing site on a Saturday is not feasible for them to do."
"Being able to do it not on a Saturday, but during the school week on campus provides a comfortable environment and I think our students received it very well," added Blanchard. He said AISD's main priority is to give all their students an equal chance to continue on to post secondary education.