SANTA FE – Students in New Mexico will take the SAT in spring 2022 as the state implements a delayed pandemic testing requirement aimed at increasing participation that varies widely across racial and ethnic groups.
These disparities were glaring this spring, as high school students were offered the test but did not have to take it. There were profound differences in the participation of high school students across racial and ethnic groups, with particularly low rates among Indigenous students, according to data released by the New Mexico Department of Public Education.
The state had planned to require high school students to take English and math exams this spring, replacing previous statewide assessments. A dozen states, including Ohio and New Jersey, require students to take the SAT or mention it as one of the options to meet federal requirements for standardized testing.
But the pandemic has made it more difficult for students across the country to pass the SAT. Logistical complications from the virus prompted New Mexico to seek a waiver of federal testing requirements.
Twenty-five percent of eligible high school students took the test this spring in New Mexico, according to data released by the PED last week. The rate was much lower for Indigenous students, with only 11% of high school students in this group taking the test.
In Cuba, on the eastern edge of the Navajo Nation in northwestern New Mexico, about two-thirds of high school students have tribal roots. Eight students took the SAT last spring, compared to 60 in a typical year, said Anna Brown, guidance counselor at Cuba High School.
A growing number of universities no longer require the SAT for admission, but state officials and local guidance counselors are still encouraging students to take it.
“If the SAT was not the state-designated assessment for high school, some students might never realize their potential for a college placement. It also allows students to access scholarship opportunities that otherwise might not be able to afford tuition, ”said Lynn Vasquez, Director of Learning Management System at PED. .
The SAT is now free each spring for New Mexico juniors. If students want to take it more than once, it can cost up to $ 100 with fees, or as little as $ 6 in districts like Cuba, where most or all students come from low-income families and are entitled to a free lunch. programs, Brown said.
“It’s like a gift,” Brown said, noting that students can take the free test as juniors and then improve their scores as seniors.
Indigenous students participated at the lowest rate of any group, just behind foster children, only 10% of whom took the test, according to PED data from the spring. Participation rates were 15% or less for students with disabilities, English language learners and homeless students.
That is compared to 50% of Asian students, 38% of white students, 25% of black students, and 23% of Hispanic students who took the test.
Of New Mexico students who took the test this spring, 57% scored at or above the benchmark on the SAT’s composite English and math tests. This compares to around 70% in 2019.