In a bid to raise college awareness and readiness among high school students, the state of Delaware will offer every 11th grader the chance to take the SAT college-entrance exam, free of charge, during the school day.
The state is using $1.8 million from its federal Race to the Top grant to finance the four-year program, according to state officials. About one-third of Delaware’s high school juniors typically take the SAT, education leaders there said. They hope the new campaign will bring that figure to 100 percent.
In addition to its place in Delaware’s college-readiness work, the agreement is noteworthy for its role in the rivalry between the New York City-based College Board, which owns the SAT, and ACT Inc., the Iowa City, Iowa-based company that owns the eponymous college-entrance exam.
The SAT has long been the most widely taken college-entrance test, but the ACT has closed the gap steadily, in part with a bigger array of statewide contracts. With the class of 2010, more students took the ACT than the SAT, according to the traditional method of calculating participation. Just as that juncture was reached, the SAT introduced a new method of calculating its test-taking, which counted a group of students it typically had excluded from the count. By that method, the SAT remained more widely taken than the ACT. (“Few Changes on SAT Posted by Class of 2010,” Sept. 22, 2010.)
Five states—Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee—require students to take the ACT, according to company spokesman Scott Gomer. Two more, North Dakota and Wyoming, require students to take either the ACT or ACT’s WorkKeys, a work-readiness assessment. Three more states—Arkansas, Texas, and Utah—offer students the chance to take the ACT free of charge, but don’t require it, Mr. Gomer said.
The SAT, in comparison, has three statewide agreements in operation now, including Delaware’s. Texas offers the test, but it’s up to each school district to opt into that program, College Board spokesman Peter Kauffmann said. Maine requires all 11th graders to take the SAT as part of its accountability system.
Mr. Kauffmann declined to discuss whether the College Board is making a point of securing more statewide contracts.
A version of this article appeared in the February 02, 2011 edition of Education Week as Del. Offers SAT to All Juniors, Free