Thousands of ninth-graders across HISD began taking the PSAT college-readiness exam this fall as a part of the “PSAT for All” initiative.
Launched in 2003, the program was originally designed to give all tenth-graders a chance to take the test for free. It was expanded in 2010 to include all ninth-graders. All test administration fees are paid for by the district.
“Everything we do supports the creation of a college-bound culture,” said HISD Manager of College Readiness Yolanda Norman. “We work closely with the College Board to get students ready, and PSAT for All gives them a little bit of insight into what they will be doing on a college campus. We want them to start thinking early about a career and a major, and this helps them understand their strengths and weaknesses so they can see what they still need to work on.”
The goal is to give students enough exposure to the test that they will be comfortable with both that exam and the SAT by the time they are juniors. The scores they receive on those exams as eleventh-graders are used to determine their eligibility for National Merit scholarships and college admissions.
“The PSAT is very similar to the SAT,” said Assistant Superintendent of College Readiness Rick Cruz, “so by the time they take the SAT, they will have seen something similar to it two or three times.”
During the last PSAT for All administration in October of 2012, 11,992 freshmen, 10,384 sophomores, and 8,752 juniors took the test.
The district also has a variation of the test in place for eight-graders called ReadiStep.