`An LA School District Paid for Thousands of Students to Take the SATAn LA School District Paid for Thousands of Students to Take the SAT
High schools in LA have partnered with local colleges and the College Board in an attempt to increase college matriculation (Image via QUEB)
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`An LA School District Paid for Thousands of Students to Take the SATAn LA School District Paid for Thousands of Students to Take the SAT

In a move geared toward graduating and sending more high school students to college, the Los Angeles district covered the cost for over 4,000 students.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and College Board paid for approximately 4,000 high schoolers to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) on Wednesday, March 7.

All 29 of Local District South’s high schools were able to take the exam. A make-up day for the exam will be offered on March 21.

Superintendent of Local District South Christopher Downing believes that “providing these tests will help students raise their expectations for taking the SAT and attending college.” He also thinks this will “inspire students to improve upon their academic strengths and weaknesses during their senior year” to help them get into college.

Not long ago, the district fostered partnerships with schools in the area, which included “priority enrollment agreements at California State University at Dominguez Hills and Charles R. Drew of Medicine and Science.”

An LA School District Paid for Thousands of Students to Take the SAT
Superintendent Christopher Downing, left, arranged for his students to take the SAT expense-free (Image via Jason Ma)

The SAT offers a waiver for the $60 SAT fee for low-income students. District officials obtained and secured waivers for students who qualified for a fee waiver, and then paid for the remaining students who did not qualify.

Downing is not only “concerned with students graduating from high school,” but also “providing them opportunities to continue their academic career.” Because most four-year institutions require SAT or ACT scores, Downing believes that this will remove a “stumbling block” by helping students with the expensive examination fee.

Though high school graduation in LAUSD has been increasing as of late, a study from UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and Claremont Graduate University “shows that just a fraction of those graduates [who enrolled into college earned] a college degree.”

Back in 2008, 68 percent of LAUSD high school graduates enrolled into a two- or four-year college or university and only 25 percent of these graduates received a college degree.

Christopher Downing
Students in LA were able to take the SAT for free, a move designed to increase college matriculation (Image via Getty/AP)

In 2014, fewer than one third of LAUSD graduates had A- or B-averages in high school. Researcher and professor at the UCLA Luskin School Meredith Phillips said that “students that finish high school with stronger grades are much more likely to keep college,” which is “‘the most important predictor’ for graduating.”

This is one of the many reasons Downing and other LAUSD district officials feel it is necessary to provide access SATs for students. With free exams, students have less of a reason to ignore studying or taking it, thus increasing their chances of enrolling into college. It also motivates them to look at college as a real possibility and/or goal.

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Dominique Bander

Loyola University

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