Sophomores to take PSAT 10 next week

Matt Barbato and Margo Levitan

Starting last school year, the Illinois State Board of Education required that all students take the SAT plus the writing component in 11th grade. This requirement marked a shift from the ACT to the SAT in the Illinois high school testing system, and ETHS is furthering this shift on Feb. 27 by administering the PSAT 10 to sophomores.

Juniors will not only take the SAT, but also the PSAT/NMSQT, in the fall. This serves two purposes: the first is to give students exposure to the format and content of the test, and the second is that the test is used to determine whether or not students qualify for various scholarships given out by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

This year, while not a state requirement, the ETHS administration has decided to administer the PSAT 10 to sophomores, giving students even earlier exposure to the SAT suite of assessments.

Pete Bavis, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, said that beyond giving students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the test, “the assessment system provides us with detailed information that can be used to modify the curriculum to support student achievement.”

Once this year’s sophomores receive their results from the PSAT 10, those results will be linked to Khan Academy to help students create a study plan that is unique to their strengths and weaknesses. Khan Academy also monitors students’ scores and growth in certain areas, recommending which AP classes students should explore as they enter junior year.

Bavis noted that with the increasing reliance of colleges on test scores for admissions, this early exposure is an “opportunity to disrupt rather than reproduce patterns of inequality.”

Sophomore Mike Moore, a part of the first class to experience this new format, agreed.

“I think the education system has become way too focused on standardized testing, and while tests don’t always define intelligence, they can determine where someone will get in,” Moore said. “Because of this, I think it’s good that we’re seeing the test early. It will allow us to track our growth and space out the amount of preparation we need to do over a longer period of time.”

While much of the ETHS community views this early exposure as an overwhelming positive, there are plenty who disagree with the new system. They believe that as American higher education becomes more centered around standardized testing, we should combat this result-based construct instead of exacerbating it.

“While I understand the benefit to seeing the test a year earlier, it seems like it will create unnecessary stress for students who don’t really need to be thinking about these things yet,” sophomore Caroline Walker said.

Whatever conflict there may be over next week’s test, one thing is clear: ETHS continues to implement measures that will prepare students for success on standardized tests and ultimately for potential experiences in higher education.