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Opinion: SAT/ACT Elective Needed at WPHS

By Kayla Brogan, Elena Cartafalsa, Carissa Hazzard, Maria Herr, Peri Kahn, and Ava Viola

As students at White Plains High School, we believe there should be a free SAT prep course provided by school. This could either be during the day as an elective or after school.

Although some may say that having a prep course during an elective period takes away from students’ development in arts, music, and or social sciences, it could only be available as an option for one semester, so students could prepare for the tests held in the winter and early spring in addition to those in the summer, while having the other half of the year to explore interesting electives. Having the class cemented on students’ schedules would hold them accountable for attending, so they would have an increased chance of raising their scores. Also, students would receive participation grades and assignment grades for class-wide practice, practice lessons, and practice tests, creating an environment like that of core classes. These grades would be another way to keep students on track with their preparation.

Just to be clear, the class is called an elective for a reason. Students elect to take the class. Nobody is forcing them to take this course, but it would prove extremely beneficial for students who have added pressure or limited time for test prep at home.

If having the course as a period during the school day is not achievable, there is also the option of holding these prep classes after school. The class could be held in the early evening, so that students who participate in sports or other extra-curriculars would still be able to fit it into their days. They would take place multiple times a week, with only a certain amount of people allowed into each class, to avoid an excessively large number of students in one classroom. Finding teachers who are willing to do this shouldn’t present itself as a big problem. An article written by Van Thompson, “Do Standardized Tests Factor in to How Much Money a School Will Receive?” states “If a teacher's students consistently perform well on standardized tests, she or he may become eligible for a pay raise.” So, they would be getting reimbursed for their extra time spent. We also have many teachers who have made it clear that they are willing to put in their own time to help us succeed. Additionally, the article says that annual achievement tests that measure a student's knowledge directly affect the amount of funding a school gets. The better the preparation for SAT’s and ACT’s, the higher the scores, and the more funding.

Even though many White Plains families can pay for high quality test prep, some cannot. Do you want your students from lower income families to not have access to tutoring of the same quality? This would be unfair and could have negative effects on those students’ college admissions processes. Many students of that demographic have strong transcripts, but struggle on standardized tests. Without quality tutoring, those students may never gain access to high quality test prep and won’t receive scores that reflect their academic comprehension.

In addition, if students' scores go up, the school could receive additional funding. Research shows that “annual achievement tests measuring student knowledge can alter the funds schools have access to.” Also, studies show that tutoring increases the test scores for eight out of 10 students who receive test prep, and in 90% of research projects tutored students clearly outperformed non-tutored ones. Even though there would be money spent on the course, the resulting funding would make up for this. In addition, the leftover funds could be put toward new uniforms, better temperature control, or even back into the program.

School provided SAT prep would be immensely beneficial to all students entering the college admission process and the school in general, so we should do everything we can to get it on our schedules our students in the classroom.

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