Parents urged to talk with their teens about PSAT/NMSQT scores

Last October, thousands of HISD freshmen, sophomores, and juniors took the PSAT/NMSQT college-readiness test, and campus staff began distributing the results this month.

Parents are strongly encouraged to discuss these scores with their children, as they can not only help gauge a student’s readiness for college but also identify good candidates for Advanced Placement (AP) classes next semester and, in some cases, determine a student’s eligibility for scholarships.

“Depending on the staff in place at a particular campus, test administrators, counselors, and/or college access coordinators may be working together with students to discuss what the results mean,” said HISD Manager of College Readiness Yolanda Norman. “But we also want the families to be involved. We want parents to be having conversations about this with their kids at the dinner table or in the car.”

Norman pointed out that the test results are particularly important for juniors, as their scores are used to determine their eligibility for National Merit, National Achievement, and National Hispanic Recognition scholarships, as well as college admissions. “Parents need to know that there’s money on the table now,” said Norman.

The College Board website has many free online tools available for students, including a “QuickStart” application that lets them review their answers, practice for the SAT, and even see which AP courses they may be ready for next year.

“Ideally, we want students to be thinking about this on their own time, too,” said Norman. “They should be asking questions like ‘how can I use these reports?,’ do I need tutoring,?’ and ‘is there anything I can do on the side to improve my score next year?’”

HISD students in grades 9 through 11 have been able take the PSAT for free since 2010, when the district’s “PSAT for All” initiative was expanded to include all freshmen.

During the last PSAT for All administration in October 2013, 12,449 freshmen, 10,497 sophomores, and 8,884 juniors took the test.