Over the last two years, the number of Houston ISD students sitting down for the SAT has nearly doubled. Julie Baker is the district's Chief Academic Officer. She says the reason for the increase is that HISD offers high school juniors a chance to prepare for and take the SAT — for free — during the school day.
"Typically, students have to register and pay on their own and take the SAT on a Saturday. And we believe that we are providing an increased opportunity by being one of only three districts across the country who are offering the SAT on a school day."
An SAT score of at least 500 in all three subjects typically indicates a student is ready for college. The number of HISD students with a score of 500 or better in reading, math, and writing, went up between 20 and 41 percent over the last two years. But overall average scores in Houston declined — as they did across the state and nation. Baker says that's to be expected, with so many additional students taking the SAT.
"As the number of exams taken, particularly by low-income students, and first-generation students, when they take the exam, they don't necessarily score at a college ready level. However, they certainly have another opportunity to take the exam."
Currently, 92 percent of HISD high schoolers are taking the SAT. Baker hopes to bring that up to 98 percent by the end of this school year.