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Sept 5, 2001

CONTACT: Lauren Cain
Director of Communications

Education Secretary Extends Deadline for Pre-College Exam Orders And Urges all 10th Graders to Participate

Florida Secretary of Education Jim Horne and Education Commissioner Charlie Crist today urged school superintendents to take additional steps to enable all 10th grade students to participate in free pre-college entrance examinations (the PSAT and the PLAN), extending until September 7 the deadline to increase requests for the test.

All 10th graders are eligible and they take the test voluntarily,” Secretary Horne said. “But we know from experience that too many students miss the opportunity to participate in this program to help them achieve at higher levels. There are two reasons to make this program available to all 10th graders in your district: your students and your teachers. Both will reap the benefits of this program in the form of greater learning and greater opportunities.”

This is a great opportunity for our 10th graders to prepare for their future,” Commissioner Crist said. “I encourage all superintendents to make the test available in their district and support our hard-working public school teachers as they help students to prepare.” The pre-college entrance exam program was funded by the Florida Legislature for $1.6 million in both 2000 and 2001 as part of the Bush-Brogan One Florida Initiative to increase educational opportunities for minorities. It is a cooperative effort with the American College Test (PLAN)) and the College Board (PSAT) to improve students’ preparation for and access to higher education.

Last fall, the first year the program was offered free to students, 56 percent of 10th graders (92,102) participated. This compares to 1999, when just 24 percent of eligible students (or 43,296) participated in the program. The test results helped school officials identify students whose potential would not have been revealed.

Secretary Horne said the Department of Education and both testing companies have agreed to extend the deadline to September 7 for school districts to increase their orders for the tests in order to offer it to all 10th graders in their district.

Secretary Horne said the results of the pre-college entrance exam can be used as a valuable diagnostic tool by teachers and guidance counselors, helping them to identify students who may need additional help in fundamental reading, writing and mathematics courses.

In addition, it will focus a spotlight on students whose academic talents have been untapped, and provide a reason to direct them toward more challenging coursework.

Secretary Horne encouraged school superintendents to take additional steps to ensure that every high school in their district is doing all it can to provide every 10th grader access to this program. School districts can:

  • Schedule the examination during the school day to take advantage of students being on campus.
  • Provide free transportation to the test site if it is scheduled on a Saturday.
  • Notify parents through letters, e-mails, public service advertisements and radio announcements that their students are eligible for the free exam.