More than one in 10 Fort Worth ISD graduates in 2022 met state expectations on the SAT or ACT, according to recent figures from the district.
Fort Worth ISD wants to improve that number in two ways. One, the district integrated skills and knowledge needed for the test in daily classroom instruction. And, two, students who want to take additional steps to prepare for the SAT can take free online tutoring.
“We take a systemic approach to how we prepare our students for SAT and other state and national assessments,” David Saenz, the district’s chief of innovation, said.
In 2021, nearly one in five students in Texas met state expectations on the SAT or ACT, according to the Texas Education Agency.
What does SAT and ACT prep look like in the classroom?
Teachers may start or end their classes with practice questions, Saenz said. Other teachers may structure their tests to be more aligned with questions on national tests. Students, though, likely do not see the instruction as preparing them for the SAT and ACT — and that’s the point, Saenz said.
Fort Worth ISD students who desire a more obvious SAT and ACT preparation course can use Khan Academy, a free, nationally recognized tutoring resource, and Edgenuity, or Imagine Learning, an online resource that helps students recover credits and push their learning further.
Saenz emphasized that each campus has flexibility on how to best approach SAT prep to best fit their specific needs.
Students also take the PSAT as a chance to become more familiar with the real test.
Two years ago, Fort Worth ISD invested in administering the PSAT — for free: once in eighth grade, twice in ninth grade, twice in 10th grade and once in 11th grade, Saenz said. With those results, teachers can adjust curriculum to better fit students’ needs, Khan Academy can target areas of improvement, and even direct students to more rigorous courses, such as Advanced Placement.
Fort Worth ISD also offers the SAT and ACT free to students, who can take it during a regular school day instead of on the weekends, Saenz said.
The SAT has a $55 fee, and the ACT costs either $85 with the writing portion or $60 without writing.
‘To do better than 13%’
Fort Worth ISD’s low SAT and ACT scores caused Trenance Dorsey-Hollins, the leader of parent advocacy group Parent Shield, to look into the district’s prep offerings. At the school board’s January meeting, administrators said the district offered SAT prep classes to students.
At a Feb. 28 school board meeting, Dorsey-Hollins told trustees she called all 22 high schools, and was brokenhearted after some campus-level administrators weren’t aware of the available preparation resources for students. She called on the district to be more transparent about what resources are available, retrain high school administrators on what their campuses offer and to communicate to parents.
“If you guys expect our kids to do better than 13%, we, as parents, need those resources,” Dorsey-Hollins said.
The district’s goal for 2022 graduates was that 25% meet state expectations on the SAT or ACT, a number Dorsey-Hollins told trustees appalled her. The district wants 26% of 2023 graduates to meet state standards.
Superintendent Angélica Ramsey included a rundown of Fort Worth ISD’s SAT resources in her weekly newsletter sent March 3 to parents.
Saenz acknowledged Fort Worth ISD is not at the level it needs to be for SAT and ACT prep. The district is getting better in ensuring prep is incorporated into all lessons, not just those near SAT and ACT testing dates.
In the coming academic year, administrators are looking to provide more district-level structure, Saenz said. However, the chief of innovation said that structure will vary by high school pyramid. For example, some schools may offer Saturday school for SAT or even an after school program to supplement what happens on campus, Saenz said.
Saenz encouraged parents who want to see additional resources to reach out to their high school campuses first then, if needed, talk to the district’s collegiate programming office.
“Here, at Central Office, we’re always open to ideas on how we can improve,” Saenz said.
Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.