Although many colleges are no longer requiring college entrance tests such as the SAT or ACT, these test scores are still a major factor in college admissions. Oregon GEAR UP schools are helping more students take college entrance tests by:
Research shows that even a small amount of test preparation can help students improve their scores. GEAR UP schools are helping students with both content and strategy by embedding test preparation into advisory periods and core classes.
Gold Beach High School takes advantage of free, online test prep through Khan Academy and encourages its use through incentives like extra credit in ELA and Math classes. Students at Taft 7-12 take a practice ACT exam at the beginning of the year so the staff has baseline data on where to focus instruction.
In addition to completing a step for admission to many colleges, many districts also allow students to use the PSAT, SAT, and/or ACT to meet Essential Skills requirements for high school graduation.
"Our largest motivator is the dual enrollment program," said Brent Caulley, the GEAR UP coordinator at McKenzie River Community School. "We have a lot of students who are interested in the program and there are limited spots so we base it off of the highest PSAT scores. This has gotten our kids to focus more on the outcome of the PSAT."
Several GEAR UP schools provide the tests for all students so students aren't hindered by getting to an off-site location or paying for test fees.
Riverside Jr/Sr High School has a Post-High School Planning Day where every grade participates in college and career-related activities, including taking the PSAT, ASVAB, or SAT.
"This day is extremely beneficial for students," said Elizabeth Rosen, the counselor at Riverside. "It gives them access to assessments they would have otherwise not taken due to financial, time, or transportation limitations. I already have success stories of a few students who took the SAT on [this] day and weren’t able to go anywhere else to take it. Our district pays for the SAT school day for the entire senior class."