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SAT chosen as NM’s official assessment

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

The state Public Education Department announced Friday that is has chosen the SAT as the state’s high school assessment.

That means juniors in the state will be required to take the college-entrance exam in spring 2020 and the state will pick up the tab, according to deputy secretary Gwen Perea Warniment.

Perea Warniment said that’s going to cost about $1.2 million.

She said this shift will cost the state the same amount as PARCC.

“This is an exciting moment for New Mexico,” Secretary-Designate Ryan Stewart wrote in a statement. “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 that accurately gauge student achievement.”

Perea Warniment said the SAT was chosen because it aligns with state standards.

“Couple things seemed to stand out with the SAT. One is there’s an updated version that came out as of 2016 that’s pretty strongly aligned with the common core state standards,” she said.

She also said the test questions are more sensitive to students who are Hispanic, Latino and Native American.

Perea Warniment said the state currently offers to pay for sophomores to take the practice SAT, which she says about 70% of students take advantage of.

“We give the PSAT already as a state for sophomores so this is a nice alignment to that,” she said.

She added that the PED is “thinking about” making the PSAT a requirement in the future.

She said a 45-person task force worked on an assessment plan, which included using a college-entrance exam for high schoolers, and six of those participants compared the SAT and ACT, eventually landing on SAT.

Perea Warniment didn’t know at the time of the interview whether more kids in the state currently take SAT or ACT.

The SAT is accepted at all colleges and universities in New Mexico and across the country, according to PED.

The deputy secretary said 20 states use the SAT as their required standardized test.

The SAT is administered by College Board. The organization gives the option of testing kids at their home school during the school day instead of driving to a testing location on a weekend.

The assessment for third through eighth grades is still in the procurement process, though the PED is aiming to announce that assessment next week.

Perea Warniment said that test and the SAT will both focus on state standards.

“While the assessment may be different and geared to different grade levels, they are still foundationally about the academic standards across the board,” she said.

The hunt for a new standardized test in the state came after an executive order from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham that ended PARCC testing in the state.

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