School Board makes PSAT mandatory for sophomores and freshmen

Starting in this academic year, the PSAT is now mandatory for Fayette County all Freshman and Sophomores. Previously it was strongly encouraged but still optional. The PSAT is a preparation for the SAT, testing students math and english skills. The PSAT will provide a baseline for all students to help evaluate their academic skills. FCPS Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk led this new movement with the Board of Education’s approval.

Test scores have helped students determine the course level they should take for years. The Explore and Plan tests helped many students in the past pick which core class level would fit their abilities. However, the Explore test is no longer being offered, nor is the Plan test. This has led to this year’s ninth graders having never taken a mandatory national standardized test. This is one reason why the PSAT is mandatory this year for ninth and tenth graders specifically.

“It’s purely getting a baseline, getting a score in place to show where they are right now compared to their counterparts,” HC counselor Sharron Wesley-Porter said.

The decision to make the PSAT mandatory also was influenced by the desire to raise the number of students in AP courses. The goal is that this test will hopefully boost student confidence to join college level courses in Fayette County High Schools. In charge of testing at HC, is Building Assessment Coordinator Amanda Biddle. Biddle previously worked in the school as a special education teacher and was hired to this position earlier this school year. This position is unique in that it has never been occupied before to one person wholly devoted to testing.

“(The) purpose is to try and find students who may not know about AP classes or may not have confidence in taking AP classes,” Biddle said. “For them to be able to have the data to show parents and to show the teachers that this student has the potential to be able to be in higher level classes.”

The movement to encourage students to enroll in advanced and AP courses within the district has influenced the decision to mandate the PSAT for freshman and sophomores. The test scores could provide some students with the boost of confidence they need to take a leap into a more rigorous courses. The test will be administered to one half of the HC student body on Oct.19.