The New Mexico Public Education Department announced Friday it has adopted the nonprofit College Board’s SAT as the state’s new official high school assessment.

The moves comes as part of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s effort to replace unpopular standardized exams previously administered to students in grades 3-11 through a coalition called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

Starting in spring, the state agency said in a news release, all New Mexico high school juniors in traditional public schools and charter schools will take the SAT, a college entrance exam, at their home school at no cost to students. The test is accepted at all colleges and universities in New Mexico and many others across the U.S. as part of the application process.

“This is an exciting moment for New Mexico,” Public Education Secretary-designate Ryan Stewart said in the news release. “In administering the SAT, we are paying for students’ college entrance exams for the first time ever, effectively removing one major barrier to college entrance for thousands of New Mexico students.

“Transitioning to the SAT is also central to our department’s goal to utilize meaningful assessments,” he added.

Last year, according to the Public Education Department, more than 19,000 New Mexico sophomores and about 5,000 juniors took the preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship qualifying test. But just 3,225 students in New Mexico’s Class of 2018 took the SAT, the College Board reported.

SAT numbers for the Class of 2019 are not yet available.

New Mexico is joining a growing number of states that require high school students to take the SAT or the ACT, another college entrance exam. More than a dozen states use one or both of the tests as a high school assessment, and several others offer the SAT at no cost to students.

According to the news release, a growing body of research, including a study on universal testing in Michigan and a similar study in Virginia, shows when students have greater access to college entrance exams like the SAT, more of them go to college.

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(1) comment

Jerry Appel

There are several falsehoods in this article and the NMPED designate's spin. First off, more and more universities are dropping the ACT/SAT as an entrance requirement because it is not an accurate assessment The SAT/ACT are standardized tests that are "normalized" which means all the scores are statistically processed to create a bell curve. The test is not a measure of skills where test results tell you if a student has mastered a particular skill. In fact, the only thing this test proves is the ability of the student to take this test. Class ranking, which is based on grades earned from teachers, is a much better predictor of college success. And if we, the electorate, stopped pressuring teachers and principals and superintendents to graduate students, high school diplomas might mean something.

What is not clear from selecting the SAT is what the cutoff score will be to graduate? When a test is designed to separate students based on the philosophy of being "academically competent" for college, what does this tell our children who want to be carpenters, machinists, chefs, electricians, et cetera?

What is long overdue is the idea of a multi-track, high school curriculum. Those students in vocational education should have to earn a certification in their field of study to graduate while only college-bound students should be required to take something like the SAT.

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