Chesterfield County Public Schools, with support from the Chesterfield Education Foundation and local business and non-profit organizations, announced a new partnership yesterday with the College Board that will help break down barriers for high school juniors who want to take the SAT.
On March 25, 2020, nearly 4,600 juniors attending a Chesterfield County high school will take the SAT at school for free. With support from the local business and foundations, Chesterfield County Public Schools will be the largest school division in Virginia to offer the SAT to every student for free on a school day, eliminating a concern about equitable access among students to the most widely recognized college admissions test.
For non-fee waiver eligible students, SAT testing is available at a cost of $49.50 per student on predetermined Saturday mornings at approved testing sites in the community. The cost, transportation to the testing site and available weekend time for testing have been a barrier for many students, especially those traditionally underrepresented in college or the first in their families to attend college.
“This is an exciting day in Chesterfield County, and an exciting moment for Chesterfield County Public Schools, its students, their families and the community that supports our work,” School Board Chair Rob Thompson said. “This School Board long has been focused on equity – providing and differentiating resources that support the academic and social emotional needs of ALL students. Today, we are excited to be here to take part in an effort to help more students think about and plan for their future and to provide them with access to additional tools that can help shape that future.”
Only 2,809 Chesterfield County graduating seniors took the 2019 SAT. There were approximately 4,500 students in the Class of 2019, meaning that only about 61 percent of Chesterfield County students took the test. There also was nearly a 15 percent increase in students who participated by fee waiver during the 2018-19 school year, leading school division leaders to question how many students did not participate because they could not afford to take the test.
“During the past 24 months, our school division has taken a number of steps to increase levels of support to all students and access to rigorous coursework that will prepare students. Today is an important next step in our efforts to make sure that every child has every chance to experience success and that they have access to the resources to do so,” Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty said. “This initiative we are announcing today removes barriers students face by offering the test during school hours, on a regular school day and at no charge to the student. We talk often about game-changers in our school division. This is a huge game changer, and we are so excited to partner with the College Board and local supporters to help break down additional barriers to success.”
In addition to the SAT School Day initiative, school division leaders also announced approximately 20,000 Chesterfield County students will participate in PSAT Day on Oct. 16 as Chesterfield County Public Schools expands administration of the PSAT to all students in grades 8-11.
PSAT for All is designed to prepare eighth-grade students to have the high school experience that best matches their academic potential and, if desired, be prepared to pursue a college degree. Through student PSAT test results, school counselors and teachers will help students identify the highest levels of the school division’s curriculum appropriate for their academic achievement potential, as well as identify career paths that align with student strengths.
“The College Board is excited to partner with Chesterfield County Schools to connect all students in grades 8-11 to opportunities through the SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, and PSAT 8/9,” said David Gupta, Vice President of the College Board’s Southern Regional Office. “We know that when students have greater access to college entrance exams like the SAT, more of them go to college. The PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 8/9 work together with the SAT to prepare students for college and career success and connect them to benefits like free test practice on Khan Academy, scholarships, and college application fee waivers.”
The Chesterfield Education Foundation has been instrumental in finding local businesses and Richmond-area non-profits to step forward to help fund the SAT and PSAT initiatives, which were listed as unfunded needs that the Chesterfield County School Board presented last fall to the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors.
“Over the past few months, we have had the opportunity to introduce this initiative to many stakeholders in the community. The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Chesterfield Education Foundation President Gary Armstrong said. “Today we would like to thank everyone who has contributed to making this program possible, and we would like to spotlight a few of our lead contributors: The Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, Dominion Energy, the Virginia Credit Union, Genworth, Altria, Chamber RVA, Sue Fulghum, Shamin Hotels and West Cary Group.”