On October 19, 2016, nearly 11,500 Oxnard Union High School District (OUHSD) students in grades 9th through 11th participated in the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT). This is the first time in the history of OUHSD that this national college readiness exam was offered to all students in grades 9 through 11. The PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is designed for students in grades 10 and 11, and is used to qualify students in grade 11 for National Merit Scholarships. Freshmen students participated in the PSAT 8/9 which provides students with the opportunity to prepare and practice for college/university entrance exams. All participating students have the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to achieve postsecondary success and engage in careers that will support the nation’s competitiveness in a growing global economy.
Taking the PSAT connects students to colleges and universities across the country, and to scholarship organizations by opting into Student Search Service. Students are automatically screened for the National Merit Scholarship Program, an academic competition for recognition and scholarships. Students taking the test are also given access to the Khan academy, an online preparation program for this exam and other high school subject areas.
Teachers in OUHSD will be participating in professional development opportunities this Spring to learn how to utilize test results to better guide instruction and maximize the resources available to better prepare students for the SAT. Students will be provided a copy of their results in February and parents will be notified of their student’s results in writing. Students and parents also have access to test results online. The individual results from the PSAT 8/9 and the PSAT/NMSQT also match students with Advanced Placement courses that make the most of their academic strengths. Through this Advanced Placement (AP) Potential report, students are encouraged to enroll in an AP course. Clara Ortiz Assistant Principal at Hueneme High School commented, “The PSAT gives students the ability to access National Merit Scholarships. Students can prepare for college with the practice test and the results give them a look into their academic weaknesses and strengths.”
Mr. Hugo Viveros, Mathematics teacher at Condor High School commented “Making the test accessible to all students addresses the equity issue of providing all students the opportunity to get feedback on their academic ability and college readiness, as well as a fair competition to scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Program.” When asked about the PSAT experience for students at Hueneme High School, Mathematics teacher Mr. Lupe Zamora responded “I like the idea knowing that students get a print out of the areas of strength and areas that they need to work on in regards to the PSAT, which they can use to study for the SAT exam at the end of their junior year.” Students were excited about being provided this wonderful opportunity, student Aldo J. commented, “The PSAT offered to all students was a really good thing, especially for kids who want to go to universities or college straight out of high school. It gives students more options.”
Through college preparatory experiences like the PSAT, the Oxnard Union High School District is promoting high expectations and powerful futures for every student in our schools. Giving the PSAT to all grade 9-11 is the first step in the district’s plan to administer the SAT, free of charge to all juniors in the Spring of 2018- making college accessible and advancing the idea that college readiness is achievable for all students.