PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Governor Gina M. Raimondo today met with students at Smithfield High School to preview one of her Jobs Plan priorities - making the SAT and PSAT free for public high school students. She was joined by Education Commissioner Ken Wagner, Representative Joseph McNamara, and Senator Stephen Archambault.
"This is about leveling the playing field and increasing access to opportunities to help Rhode Island's kids succeed," Raimondo said. "Providing these tests for free is about equity - this ensures that all students, regardless of economic circumstances, can use these tests to consider higher education opportunities. We need more students to be college and career ready. The SAT and PSAT set an appropriately high standard and are good tools to help close our skills gap."
Raimondo's proposal would provide all 10th and 11th grade Rhode Island public high school students with free SAT and PSAT tests and will be included as part of her Fiscal Year 2017 budget. Previously, students paid up to $54 to take the SAT and $15 to take the PSAT and often had to take the test on a Saturday. In the 2014-2015 school year, less than 60 percent of public high school students took the SAT and approximately 38 percent took the PSAT. Under Raimondo's proposal, students will be able to take the test during the school day. Based on enrollment data, around 20,000 public high school students will benefit from this plan.
"The SAT is a highly-valued assessment that offers opportunities for students who may underestimate their academic abilities," said Representative Joseph McNamara, chairman of the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee. "As a retired school administrator, I have personally observed the motivational difference that the SAT makes in the success of a student. I am a strong believer that the SAT should be free and accessible to all."
"These assessments open the college gates for our students," said Senator Hanna M. Gallo, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Education. "It is important that we remove any financial barriers so that all Rhode Island students have access to this opportunity."
"Education is the means through which people lift themselves out of poverty," said Senator Stephen R. Archambault. "It is imperative that the opportunity to take the PSAT and SAT is open to all students, regardless of financial means."
"Students who take the SAT exams are engaged in thinking about Postsecondary education," said Education Commissioner Ken Wagner. "Providing our students with the opportunity to take this assessment at no cost will encourage more Rhode Islanders to recognize that they can pursue a pathway that could lead them to Postsecondary education and to a challenging career."
Research shows that SAT school day administration results in higher college-going rates, particularly among first-generation students. Experts predict that by 2020, 71 percent of jobs in Rhode Island will require some form of post-secondary education. Today, only about 44 percent of Rhode Islanders have a post-secondary degree or credential. That has to change.
The Raimondo Jobs Plan makes significant investments in skills that matter so we can build a new Rhode Island economy, create high-wage jobs, and grow opportunity for everyone.