Education News

Amid Testing Backlash, SAT Exam Gets Attention In Texas

For two years Texas paid for juniors in high school to take a college entrance exam — the SAT or the ACT. The college prep program was a budget casualty in 2011. But some say the state should pick up the tab again.

Like other lawmakers in Austin, state Sen. Dan Patrick would like cut back on high-stakes testing.

But Patrick would like to expand another exam.

“I would also like to see the state fund SAT for every student.”

The SAT is a college entrance exam. It’s administered by the College Board and costs $50 dollars.

Patrick is a Houston-area Republican and chairs the Senate Education Committee.

The state’s college prep program has lost about $10 million.

But Patrick says the state can find the money.

Some districts already help students take the SAT – like the Houston Independent School District.

“For the third year in a row, Houston ISD has set aside a day, a class day for every junior in the school district to take the SAT exam. For us, this year that happened this past Wednesday. We had about 10,000 juniors sign up to take the exam.”

Jason Spencer is with HISD. He says the SAT Day costs just over $350,000.

“We realize that there are certain artificial barriers that really prohibit some students from taking the exam. Traditionally the SAT is given on weekends. We know some students have a hard time getting to the testing site on the weekend. And then cost is also a barrier — taking the SAT is a $50 dollar fee for typical students so we waive that.”

In just two years, HISD has almost doubled the number of students who take SAT.

Their scores have also improved.


Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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