Monday, March 21, 2011

Help SCAP bridge the SAT gap!

Tonight, members of the Student Career Alternatives Program (SCAP) will lead the second session of our latest service for youth in Atlanta, free SAT tutoring.

A few months ago, looking to expand SCAP's reach and get some tutoring experience, SCAP member and GPJC intern Dell Maclean came up with the idea that SCAP should offer free SAT tutoring once a week. This tutoring would expand our range of services assisting Atlanta youth in finding viable non-military post-high school options. Since it was a first-time project, we did minimal outreach.

However, during those few months since the announcement went out and the brainstorming began, a lot happened. With the recent cuts to the HOPE scholarship, Georgia high schoolers suddenly find a new obstacle standing between them and the college funding many of them have been working toward for years: the SAT. The new legislation requires a 3.7 GPA and an SAT score of 1200 (on math and verbal) to get the full scholarship.

Many people have questioned the GA legislature not only for cutting education at all, but also for bringing in standardized testing as a criteria. The SAT has been criticized as an admission and funding tool for a range of reasons, including racial bias and lack of merit as an indicator of ability and future success. One of the main criticisms is that the SAT requires particular knowledge and strategies that can be gained through expensive books and tutoring not accessible to low-income students. In fact, many have called out the GA legislature for effectively re-segregating Georgia's public universities. Some legislators against the bill pointed out that 71 percent of Georgia students scoring above 1200 on the SAT are white, and only 7 percent are black. The inclusion of the SAT requirement drastically reduces the number of African American students eligible for the full scholarship.

With this debate as the backdrop, word about the free SAT tutoring spread quickly, and the response was tremendous. There are 10 students attending the tutoring. The waiting list is 40 students and growing. At this point, SCAP does not have enough tutors within its own core group to expand the tutoring. However, if other concerned citizens and college students volunteered to tutor, we could invite some of the students off the waiting list to come get some preparation before test day.

The tutoring takes place every Monday night, 6:30-8:30pm, at the AFSC office, 60 Walton Street downtown. The first session was held March 14th. Five volunteer tutors got started with the students, assessing their areas of strength and weakness and helping them learn how to improve their scores. While SCAP opposes the new legislation and would like it to change, we think it's important to fill in the gap and address an enormously unmet need in the meantime.
Please consider helping us on Monday nights. Tutors can work on a rotating basis and don't need to be formally trained in SAT prep. Contact Dell at to sign up and help talented students bridge the SAT gap!

Erica Schoon
American Friends Service Committee

No comments:

Post a Comment