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OPINION: College access for all

November 3, 2015 By NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. Photo courtesy of the NYC Department of Education
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Last week, I announced that starting next school year, all New York City high schools will offer the SAT exam free to 11th-graders. Students will take the SAT during the school day in the spring. 

As the daughter of immigrants and the first person in my family to go to college, I know how difficult the college process — including taking the SAT exam — can be. But I also know that whether our young people go to college shouldn’t be decided by what neighborhood they live in or what country they or their parents come from.

That’s why Mayor de Blasio and I are committed to “College Access for All” — improving the college process for all students and families and putting more students on the path to college. Starting next year, the new “SAT School Day” is part of our commitment, and it is going to make a real difference for students and families.

At a Manhattan high school I visited this week, I spoke to 12th-graders about their experience with the SAT. Isabella was nervous for her SAT exam because she had to travel to an unfamiliar school. Her classmates Sam and Samantha were as worried about paying for the SAT as the actual material on the test. Even students who qualified to take the test for free had to spend time tracking down a fee waiver instead of studying. 

While Isabella, Sam and Samantha all ended up taking the SAT, many students like them across New York City did not. As we remove the barriers around the SAT, we’ll see more of our talented students taking the exam, as well as students like Isabella, Sam and Samantha more relaxed and better prepared to succeed on their exams. 

By moving the SAT to the regular school day starting next year, we’re also highlighting the importance of college planning and college exams for all students and families. That’s a large part of what SAT School Day and College Access for All are about — reminding all our students that they can pursue college and giving them and their families the support they need to do that. 

Our schools will continue to share information about SAT School Day and College Access for All as we move forward, and I am excited to work with parents as partners as we make these initiatives a reality.

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Brooklyn Eagle Comments: Some Additional Tips For a Better ‘Head Start’ In Public Schools

The successful private school St. Ann’s in Brooklyn Heights was founded by a charismatic and controversial headmaster, the late Stanley Bosworth, half a century ago.

St. Ann’s parents loved him dearly, hated him or tolerated him until their offspring got into college. But everyone within St. Ann’s respected his innovative efforts. Among his ideas was the notion that “bubble tests,” those critical multiple choice yardsticks by which generations have been measured for college admission, should be given to very young students — even second-graders — on a regular basis. Years later, in high school, when St. Ann’s students encountered Preliminary SATs, and then the critical SAT itself, the format was familiar territory. The test was much less intimidating than to most students, who might be seeing that format for the first time.

This was a brilliant innovation and it paid off. St. Ann’s consistently led the nation with its top tier student placement into Ivy League colleges.

As Chancellor Farina develops more access to SAT testing in public schools, the average tax-paying citizen might take notice of this valuable innovation and support it. What better simple adage could be applied to our public school system, while it is being run by enlightened leaders like Fariña, than this: “spend a buck now, save a thousand later!”

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