For the first time, Oklahoma City Public Schools is paying for juniors and sophomores to take the PSAT.
The district said the response has been overwhelming. Usually only 200 kids sign up to take the test. This year, 1,600 have signed up. In fact, it was such a great opportunity, the entire sophomore and junior classes at Northeast Academy signed up to take the test.
“It was very cool that they would pay for it. That is very nice of them and it's great that it's during school time,” said sophomore, Paul Braden.
For the first time, Oklahoma City Public Schools is paying for 10th and 11th graders to take the test. That is a big help at schools like Northeast Academy, which serves a lot of low-income families.
“Some of them just can't afford the extra $25 here or $37.50 here for all these tests,” said Lois Jones, a counselor at Northeast Academy.
“I think it will help a lot of people not have the excuse of, ‘I couldn't pay for it,' or ‘I couldn't get to the school on time to take the test,'” said junior Tobie Mitchell.
The district is also giving the test during the school day on Oct. 29, rather than on a Saturday morning when transportation is an issue for some students.
“I was happy, for one, because any test like that that gets us ready for college, I'm ready for it and the fact that it's paid for,” said sophomore Rhondall Daniels.
Northeast Academy has only had an average of 10 students take the PSAT the last several years.
“I have to take a step back because I have to remember, ‘Wow, was I that excited about a test when I was in school?'” said Jones.
The PSAT is a chance for students to see where their skills are at heading into the SAT, advance towards college and possibly get scholarships. The more kids taking the test means the better chance OKCPS has at producing national merit scholars. That is where junior Airyal Moore has set her sights.
“I would like to actually be a merit scholar so that I can have my college paid for and I can go anywhere I want,” Moore told News 9.
Through a partnership with The College Board, Oklahoma City Public Schools is getting a reduced price on this PSAT opportunity. It's costing the district $41,000 to pay for the tests and administer them.