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District's SAT Registration Triples Due to Free SAT Day

More Students Stepping Onto College Pathway

FEDERAL WAY, Wash., Oct. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Federal Way Public Schools is committed to creating a college-going culture by removing barriers to student participation. The latest district innovation is to pay for any senior to take the SAT and to offer the testing during a regular school day. Seniors have responded en masse, with 83.25% signed up to take the test on October 17. The number is the more than triple that of last year, when approximately 25% of seniors took the test.

The district is offering the free SAT opportunity as part of College Preparation Day, a day-long event that will engage all 8th -12th grade students in activities and assessments designed to better prepare them to get into and be successful in college. The day's activities will give students, schools, and the district feedback about students' knowledge and skills, and what they need in order to be college and career ready.

"We are committed to every student having options for their future, including going to college if they wish," Superintendent Rob Neu said. Providing this comprehensive approach to college testing during the school day at the district's expense is unheard of in the state, and may be unique in the nation. Offering testing during regular school hours will help increase participation by students who work on the weekends, who may not have transportation to get to a testing site on a Saturday, or for whom there are financial barriers.

This follows on the heels of the district's academic acceleration initiative which automatically places qualified students in rigorous academic programs of study instead of waiting for them to opt in. The number of students enrolled in advanced classes nearly doubled when the new policy was implemented and the composition of advanced classes now better reflects the ethnic diversity of the district. Read more at

The importance of college readiness testing

By implementing this program, the district is acting to remove another barrier that traditionally inhibits minority students and students in poverty from pursuing post-secondary education. "We want college testing to become the norm in Federal Way Public Schools," Executive Director of Secondary Education Vince Blauser said. "It will provide systemic exposure to a post secondary education-bound culture beginning in the 8th grade."

As students take the test and receive the results, they will be provided with the support to improve skills that need to be bolstered. Teachers may also be able to use these test results as assessments for grading in the standards-based system. Additionally, Federal Way students will have access to free on-line test preparation for the SAT.

Federal Way Public Schools Assessment Director Dave Davis notes that, when students take PSAT or SAT prep classes, their scores often jump significantly. "It can mean thousands in scholarships," Davis noted, pointing out that the National Merit Scholarship program is the largest scholarship program in the world.

There are also many free SAT preparatory materials available at, as well as college and career planning guides. Moreover, students will learn about career options for their aptitudes, find out how and where to get a degree or training in those areas, and receive literature from post-secondary institutions. "There's nothing like getting college catalogs in the mail to get a kid to start thinking, 'maybe I CAN go to college,'" Davis remarked. This process will empower students, he added.

Other activities on October 17 include:

  • 8th graders will take ReadiStep, a "low-stakes" middle school assessment which measures skills students need to be on track for college success.
  • 9th graders will take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), a diagnostic assessment which provides SAT practice, skills feedback, and access to college and career planning tools.
  • 10th graders will use "My College QuickStart," a personalized college and career planning tool to help develop their High School and Beyond Plan, which is a graduation requirement.
  • 11th graders will take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT). In addition to being an assessment test and practice for the SAT, for 11th graders, this is also the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). It allows qualified students to enter competitions for prestigious scholarships and recognition programs.

For more information, please call Diane Turner at 253-945-2262
Or email

SOURCE Federal Way Public Schools