Beverly Hills Unified's school board unanimously approved a new policy Tuesday night to require all juniors take the PSAT starting in October.
"This really fits in with the high school's plan of preparing every student for college readiness to apply to a university," said Jennifer Tedford, the district's chief academic officer. "We know that the PSAT is a gateway assessment, that students who take this assessment are on their way to apply to a university."
Roughly half of all high school sophomores and two-thirds of the juniors take the Preliminary SAT each year on a Saturday morning, Tedford said. Under the new plan, the district will offer the test on a Wednesday morning possibly as part of a college preparedness day, Tedford said.
The exam is not only practice for the SAT, but juniors who take the exam can also qualify as National Merit Scholars. Finalists win a $2,500 prize and additional distinction during the college application process.
The plan has been approved for three years with the first year subsidized by $6,000 from the Beverly Hills Education Foundation. That amount would cover the majority of the $6,700 cost to provide the exam to juniors, Tedford said. Sophomores would still have the option to take the exam for a fee.
Board members said they will be looking at what to charge students who opt to take the exam as sophomores. The district is charged $14 per exam, said math teacher Stephen Madaris, who administers the PSAT. It charges students $30 for the cost of administering the exam on a Saturday with higher fees for later sign up dates, he said.
Madaris said the high school is looking at offering college readiness programs for freshmen and sophomores, and having seniors focus on college applications, during the same school day it would administer the PSAT. He said this would ensure the high school provides a quiet testing environment for those taking the exam.