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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PR- 300-06
August 21, 2006

MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND SCHOOLS CHANCELLOR KLEIN ANNOUNCE THE PSAT WILL NOW BE OFFERED FREE-OF-CHARGE TO ALL NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOL 10TH AND 11TH GRADE STUDENTS

System-wide PSAT Testing Will Better Prepare High School Students for the SAT and Increase the Pool of Students Eligible for National Merit Scholarships

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced that a new partnership has been created between the Department of Education (DOE) and the College Board to offer the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT) free-of-charge to all 10th and 11th grade students. The PSAT is the preliminary SAT for 10th and 11th grade students and serves as the National Merit Qualifying Test for 11th grade students. The SAT is recognized as one of the exams commonly accepted in the college and university admissions process. DOE will also use the test to identify students who have potential for advanced high school course work and encourage these students to consider post-secondary school options.  The Mayor and Chancellor were joined by College Board President Gaston Caperton and Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis Walcott for the announcement at the DOE headquarters in Lower Manhattan.

“Providing a sound education for our children also means preparing them to take on the rigors of higher education and the college classroom,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Regardless of the career path individual students choose, we want to ensure that each and every student receives an education that will prepare them for college and beyond. Offering every 10th and 11th grader the chance to take the PSAT will start more of our students on that path to success and I encourage every student to take advantage of this great opportunity.”

“We must continue to raise the bar and set high expectations for our students and focus on making sure they are afforded every available opportunity,” said Chancellor Klein.  “So many of our students have the potential to succeed in high school and beyond and this new partnership represents our commitment to continuing to remove the barriers that keep them from realizing their potential and reaching their goals.”

On Wednesday, October 18, all 10th and 11th grade students enrolled in New York City Public Schools will be able to take the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test at no additional cost to the students or the schools. DOE has allocated $1.2 million to pay for up to 150,000 students to take the test. 

Before this year, most students who chose to take the PSAT were responsible for the cost and making arrangements to take the test, often on a weekend. This year, the free PSAT is being offered on a weekday, providing more students the opportunity to participate. Studies have shown that there is a substantial scoring advantage for those students who take the PSAT and SAT multiple times.

Over the past three years, DOE has focused on increasing college readiness initiatives and opportunities for students to take the PSAT. The number of students taking the test grew by nearly a third between the 2002-2003 and 2005-2006 school years, with a total of 44,488 students participating last year.  Part of the increase was due to an earlier phase of the college readiness initiative, launched in fall 2005, under which the PSAT was offered to 10,000 students at schools traditionally underserved by Advanced Placement courses. 

Under the new partnership, in addition to all 10th and 11th grade students, English Language Learners, Special Education students and students attending transfer schools will also have the option of taking the PSAT.  Schools will encourage students to participate by distributing information on the test to parents at the start of the school year. For more information on taking the PSAT, visit www.nyc.gov or call 311.







MEDIA CONTACT:


Stu Loeser/Virginia Lam   (212) 788-2958



GENERAL CONTACT:

David Cantor   (Department of Education)
(212) 374-5141


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