D.C. SAT requirement pushed by Kwame Brown

If Kwame Brown has his way, all D.C. students will be required to take the SAT. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A new push is being made to require D.C. high school students to take the SAT if they want to get their diploma.

On Wednesday, D.C. Council chair Kwame Brown introduced legislation requiring all District high school students to take the ACT or SAT before graduating. Students would also be required to apply to at least one college, including trade schools and the military.

The motivation behind the proposal is the desire to raise the graduation rate in D.C. Public Schools, which is still among the worst in the United States, along with raising expectations and motivation for students to pursue their post-secondary education.

According to a National Education survey, the D.C.S. graduation rate is still under 50 percent compared to the national average of 70 percent.

Some parents say more D.C. students will be incentivized to graduate if they know they can go to college. Other parents say the decision to take the test should be up to the student, not the government.

Brown points to D.C. charter schools like Thurgood Marshall which has a 100 percent graduation rate and requires students to apply to at least five colleges.

Brown says he's considering having the government pay any fees associated with taking the entrance exam. Those fees could amount to about $400,000 if every student's test is paid for.

According to the College Board, the organization that administers the SAT, the test currently costs $49 to take. Fee waivers can be obtained through school counselors in some cases.

Statistics from the College Board show that the average SAT verbal score for a D.C. student is at a 40-year low; students in the District averaged a 497 on that portion of the test.

Math scores have actually increased during that same time span, though. The average D.C. student scored a 514 on the math section. Writing scores have consistently decreased since the newest section of the SAT was introduced in in 2006, reaching a 489 average in 2011.

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