Raimondo wants to offer free SAT, PSAT to RI students

Gov. Gina Raimondo & Education Commissioner Ken Wagner

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A day before she releases her second state budget proposal, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said Monday she wants every high school student in the state to take the PSAT and SAT exams for free.

In a news conference at Smithfield High School, Raimondo said she’ll set aside $500,000 in her budget that begins July 1 to cover the cost of the two exams for each public school student. Raimondo said she expects about 20,000 students to benefit from the policy.

Raimondo said students will be allowed to take the two exams in school rather than on the weekend.

“This is about leveling the playing field and increasing access to opportunities to help Rhode Island’s kids succeed,” Raimondo said in prepared statement.

Students currently pay $54 for the SAT and $15 for the PSAT, but the state was able to negotiate a discounted rate from The College Board – the firm that administers the exams – in order to cover every student for $500,000. Raimondo said students who wish to take either exam more than once will have to pay full price for the additional attempts.

Raimondo said fewer than 60% of Rhode Island public school students took the SAT during the 2014-15 school year; about 38% took the PSAT.

Improving educational outcomes is expected to be among the governor’s top priorities in her new budget. She said the plan will include revisions to the state’s education funding formula, including a change the amount public charter schools receive from sending school districts.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

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