INFORMATIONAL LETTER NO. 105
POLICY CODE: ICHD
Guidance Counselors, High School Principals, and Curriculum Coordinators
From: Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner
Re: Initiative to Provide All Maine Tenth Graders with the PSAT
As part of
the statewide effort to encourage all high school graduates in Maine
to pursue post-secondary education, I am announcing that the State will provide
for all 10th graders in Maine’s
publicly supported high schools to take the PSAT/NMSQT in the fall of
2004. For all students in Maine
to have equitable access to a college education, they must have equitable
access to the pre-requisites to entering post-secondary education.
In a partnership with the College
Board, the Maine Department of Education will provide the students with the
PSAT on Wednesday, October 13, 2004. By administering the test on Wednesday all
students will be able to take it without the concerns of transportation and
work obligations that effect the customary Saturday administration.
This will enable all participating
students to receive important information for themselves and their families,
and will provide schools with enhanced information to support student academic
advising, early college planning, and teacher professional development.
believe all students can achieve at higher levels of performance and learning,
and that all of our students can be college-ready, then they, too, must believe
that they can achieve and participate in college preparation experiences such
as the PSAT. We must show them that we
believe that they can go on to post-secondary education.
Maine’s project will be conducted in close
cooperation with the College Board.
President of the College Board and former Governor of West Virginia Gaston Caperton has
stated his commitment to the partnership: “The College Board looks forward to
an enduring partnership with the state of Maine that will benefit students,
counselors, teachers, and administrators in connecting students to college
success and opportunity with a commitment to excellence and equity.”
has one of the lowest college-going rates of high school graduates in the
country while having one of the highest high school graduation rates. Although this discrepancy can be attributed
to several factors, the encouragement of students from their teachers and
counselors can make a difference. In a state where 75% of jobs now require a
post-secondary education, we must provide our students with access to that
education. A frequently stated concern
about providing the PSAT to all 10th graders is the effect on self-esteem if
students do not do well on the test or the effect on the school if the overall
scores for the school decrease. To help
address this concern, the MELMAC Foundation funded PSAT participation in
several high schools last year and one of the project requirements was that the
schools test all the 10th or 11th graders.
The early results of the project are very promising.
PSAT in the 10th grade provides students and educators with valuable
information. Students who take the PSAT
in the sophomore or junior year in Maine
score higher on the SAT than the students who take the PSAT as juniors or not
Senior Year SAT I
PSAT as a Junior only V-
501 M – 500
PSAT as Sophomore and Junior or younger V- 563 M – 565
Never took the PSAT V-
465 M – 462
(V = verbal; M =
In addition, students receive a
report that shows them their correct answers and the ones they missed, along
with guidance for skills development in identified areas that are aligned with Maine’s
Learning Results. Thus, students
and their teachers can target content areas tied to the Learning Results that
need attention more than one year prior to the 11th grade MEAs; teachers also
can see areas across the school to target areas for instruction.
the PSAT is given to all 10th graders in a number of states, such as
Florida, Indiana, and Georgia, as well as in growing numbers of school
districts throughout the nation. In
2003, Maine ranked lower than the New England region as a whole, as well as
nationally, in the number of 10th graders who take the PSAT.
I believe that this partnership
will raise the aspirations of all our students to pursue a college education
and will provide valuable information to the students, teachers, and parents on
the strengths and areas on which to improve to successfully meet the Learning
The Department’s commitment to equity
for all students in Maine is
supported by many initiatives that are being coordinated to ensure a seamless
effort to prepare Maine’s
students for post-secondary education and a quality of life that will reduce
the outward migration of Maine’s
youth. The following
organizations/programs are working together to ensure all students have equal
access to a postsecondary education:
The Maine Learning Technology Initiative
(MLTI-laptops): The MLTI’s mission of
providing equitable access to learning through the laptops will provide access
to more students to advanced content and will bring college guidance tools and
rigorous content to prepare students for Advanced Placement courses.
Advanced Placement Incentive Program: Through a
federal grant, low-income schools and students may access funds and activities
that will increase the participation of low-income—many of whom are first
generation college prospects—in Advanced Placement (AP) preparation and
courses. Fees for the AP exams are also
paid in total for students meeting the income criteria. Low-income student participation in AP exams
has doubled in the past 3 years.
Compact for Higher Education: The Compact holds a vision of higher
education as a fundamental right and responsibility of all Maine
people. The Compact exists to promote educational opportunities so that Maine
people will be among the best educated in America. The Compact is a joint initiative of the
Maine Development Foundation (MDF) and the Maine Community Foundation.
Maine’s designation of its former Technical
Colleges as Community Colleges, with a broader purpose of providing citizens
with the first two years of traditional college course work, will enable more
students to access a college education close to where they live and then go on
to a four-year institution, or prepare them to enter the first year of studies
at four-year institutions.
This program provides grants and scholarships to schools, administrators
and students to assist in improving programs.
Last year the MELMAC Foundation funded schools that, in turn, had all
10th or 11th graders take the PSAT.
Contact Wendy Ault, 622-3053.
The Mitchell Institute: Through a grant from the Gates Foundation,
grants are provided to schools to support implementation of recommendations
Futures: A Call to Improve Learning for Maine's
Secondary Students, the report published by the Maine Commission on
Secondary Education. The goal is to create environments for personalized
learning for all Maine students,
and to prepare all students for success in college, the workforce, and their
communities. To accomplish this goal and to provide support for strengthening
all public high schools in Maine,
the Great Maine Schools Project has been implemented at the Mitchell
Institute. The Mitchell Institute also
recognizes students who show great potential, and for whom they believe they
can make a difference, by awarding annual scholarships to institutions of
higher education. Contact Colleen Quint,
Center for Inquiry on Secondary Education
(CISE): CISE oversees the grants funded with federal funds provided to
secondary schools to implement the recommendations of Maine’s
landmark publication on secondary education, Promising Futures. Contact Norm Higgins, 564-7347.
These combined efforts and
programs demonstrate the commitment of the Governor,
the Commissioner and the people of Maine
to meeting the needs of its students and to ensuring equity in education,
wherever our students live. Please join
me in this effort.