Fayette County is the first district in Kentucky to pay for all freshmen and sophomores to take the PSAT, which will give more students equitable opportunities, Superintendent Manny Caulk told parents this week.
On Wednesday, ninth- and 10th-grade students in Fayette County were taking the Preliminary SAT, which is also the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The test registration costs $15 per student. But district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said Tuesday that “the school district has negotiated a pricing contract that will be much lower.”
Over the past five years, an average of 344 sophomores per year took the PSAT. On Wednesday, more than 3,400 ninth-graders and 2,900 10th-graders were to take the test.
Time Magazine in an article last year reported that the PSAT could mean much more money for college for students and that more than 400 school districts in the U.S. pay for the tests. The magazine reported that of the 1.5 million 11th-grade students who take the exam each year, about 15,000 became finalists. About half of finalists receive either a one-time $2,500 National Merit Scholarship or a scholarship sponsored by a corporation or hundreds of colleges.
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Caulk, in an email message to parents on Monday, said that the PSAT matches students to advanced placement courses, which provides students an opportunity to earn college credit while in high school. Caulk said students should say “yes” to whether they want to participate in a Student Search Service on the day of the test, so that scholarship providers can find them.
“As superintendent, one of my goals is to ensure that all of our students have access and equitable opportunities to take advanced-level classes. By giving all of our ninth-graders the chance to take the PSAT, we will be able to identify each student’s areas of strength and steer them toward the appropriate Advance Placement classes, which can allow them to earn college credits,” Caulk said.
Caulk said that students who take the PSAT automatically receive free access to Khan Academy, a personalized online practice program that focuses each student on areas where they can grow the most.
“The PSAT can also be a gateway to the future for our sons and daughters because it puts them on the radar for colleges and universities across the country. Once our students take the PSAT, they will begin receiving information about colleges and scholarships that will put higher education within their reach,” Caulk told parents.