DRS Preps Students for College

Earlier this month, the College Board released a study showing that minorities in Florida perform poorly on college admission tests, including the SAT.

The College Board, a program initiated to promote excellence in education grades kindergarten through 12th grade, released a state-integrated program overview for testing in 2010. In Florida, there was a 15 percent increase in minorities enrolled in SAT testing, according to report.

The scores also revealed that whites were the racial group with the highest performance on the combined subject tests.

Determined to change staggering statistics, FAMU Developmental Research School Superintendent Patricia Hodge has made it mission to get her students “college ready.”

Hodge said she wants to increase the chances that students will be dual-enrolled as well as taking more classes geared toward the subject they would study in college.

She said it begins with the faculty and parents, then it trickles down to the students.

“We have also provided test prep in the classroom and will continue to do so throughout the school year,” said Hodge.

FAMU DRS students are already involved in a system of monitoring that includes testing looking at results and understanding their performance.

“We have been encouraging our juniors and seniors to take test of this type and have increased their opportunities to do so,” Hodge added.

Students are also encouraged to take Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment courses to indicate that they will be successful in college courses.

“The classes I’ve taken thus far are very challenging. My teachers are always preparing us for college,” said Cayla Pennywell, an 11th-grade student at FAMU DRS. Pennywell, who scored 65 percent higher than most juniors on the SAT, said taking the college placement test as a sophomore helped her prepare for taking the SAT as a junior.

While DRS faculty and administration are making strides to improve test scores among their students, in-school preparation is only a small portion of what the students need for college preparation.

Kay Wallace, who serves as DRS’ guidance counselor and test coordinator, said the school has begun making connections with parents to ensure that they too, are preparing their children for college.

“We have had several meetings with parents about college attendance, and the importance of scoring well on these tests,” said Wallace.

“However, we understand that the test is just one measure that universities use to determine a student’s suitability for acceptance.”

Parents are strongly encouraged to meet with teachers to find out their child’s strengths and weaknesses to help better prepare them for the test. Purchasing practice books and perhaps after school tutor programs are also recommended, Wallace said