AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Fewer high school students in the Panhandle attending two-year colleges are taking standardized tests like the SAT and ACT because they're taking the Texas Success Initiative Assessment (TSI).
Like other standardized tests, TSI is designed to help colleges and universities determine if students are ready for college-level course work, by testing them in reading, writing, and mathematics. Since 2013, the test has been required for all students attended a college or university in Texas.
What makes TSI different from other standardized test? It is suppose to help place students in college courses that are right for them.
"The ACT and SAT are not necessarily designed to be diagnostic," Bob Austin, Vice President of Student Affairs at Amarillo College, said. "So this is a diagnostic assessment and it's trying to find a level of precision where you're placing the student in the appropriate course. With SAT and ACT in some ways you're just looking at composite scores."
Sandra Spalding, River Road High School counselor, said the TSI test is more useful for schools to track what subjects students need help in.
"TSI is probably not quite on the level of the SAT or the ACT, but it is more useful to colleges and to the high schools to see where their students are lacking academically because it breaks it down on a better scale when it gives you the results about what their not proficient in," Spalding said.
Spalding said less students are taking the SAT and ACT because it the TSI is all they need to get into college.
"Most of our students start out at a junior college and the TSI test can only be used for admittance to a two-year college," Spalding said. "If you're going on to a four-year school such as WT, Texas Tech, or OPSU you do have to take the ACT or SAT test [also]."
Not all students attending a four-year university are required to take the TSI because there are several exemptions.
Students also prefer the TSI because it's cheaper.
"If you go to Amarillo College each subject, there's reading, math, and writing, the cost is 10 dollars, so it's around 30 bucks," Spalding said. "But if I give it to them here, which I did the entire senior class, I only charge them five dollars. The ACT, if you take it with writing you're looking at close to 80 versus without the writing you're looking at 54 dollars."