The classrooms and hallways of Bibb County’s high schools were especially quiet Wednesday morning. Students hunkered down with No. 2 pencils and answer sheets for SAT Day.
It marked the second year the district has paid for and administered the college admissions exam to all seniors who are on track to graduate in May, said Floyd Jolley, Bibb County’s executive director of teaching and learning. The county has 1,274 seniors this year.
It was also test day for 10th- and 11th-graders, who took the PSAT, said Janice Flowers, the school system’s GEAR UP program director. The district offers that test to students annually and planned SAT Day in conjunction with it this year.
Students normally have to take the SAT at special testing sites on Saturday mornings, Jolley said. That early time can be a struggle for students who are up late for athletic events on Friday nights or have to work.
Providing the test at school during the day eliminates that worry as well as concerns about cost and transportation. The $60-per-student SAT fee was covered through a GEAR UP Grant, and the district registered students for the exam.
“It allows the opportunity for the students to be more successful,” Jolley said. “All of the seniors in the district are taking it, regardless of whether they’ve taken it before or not. The more times (they) take it, the better they seem to do, so that’s important.”
Low-income students can get one SAT fee waiver, and the district’s SAT Day is an opportunity for them to take the test for a first or second time.
Students in other parts of the country will have the same opportunity during this school year. Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., will administer the SAT at no cost to students during a school day, said Maria Eugenia Alcón-Heraux, the College Board’s director of media relations. Bibb and Fulton counties in Georgia are among just 250 additional school districts in the United States offering the program.
“SAT participation grows when it is administered on a school day, especially among low-income students,” Alcón-Heraux said in an email. “Students who didn’t see themselves as college-going are thinking about their college options and future career choices.”
Sixty-one percent of Georgia’s class of 2017 took the SAT during high school, compared with 47 percent of graduates across the country, according to the Georgia Department of Education. In Bibb County, 1,089 students took the test. There were only 672 test-takers the year before, when the district didn’t have SAT Day.
The October test date gives Bibb seniors time to take the SAT again in December if they want to improve their scores and still meet college admissions deadlines, Jolley said. The district won’t have the GEAR UP grant next year, but it hopes to find other means to continue offering SAT Day.