Every year, more than 3 million high school students line up at designated testing centers to take either the American College Test or the Scholastic Aptitude Test, better known as the ACT and SAT.
Two years ago, in an effort to ensure that students were as prepared as possible for the exams, CHS stepped up to offer test prep classes though the Princeton Review. However, this year the school has decided to end its relationship with the Princeton Review, which cost the Carmel Unified School District approximately $60,000, after finding that the course fell short of expectations.
For now, the strategy for replacing the prep courses is murky.
“One of the ideas is to have the district and the families share the cost of a course,” counselor Darren Johnston says.
Despite uncertainty going forward with the prep course, CHS wants to move on from the Princeton Review.
“For the amount of money we were paying them, they were not bringing us their best in any category,” Johnston says. “It was just really poorly run, really poorly managed, really poorly staffed and poorly taught. To be honest there wasn’t a single positive aspect of the course other than the name Princeton Review.”
The ACT and SAT classes offered over February break, as well as several weekends in 2015, drew 111 CHS juniors. Those who stuck with the course gave mixed reviews.
“I learned the basic skills of how to read directions properly [and] use special tricks,” says Celeste Miller, a CHS senior who participated in the 32-hour ACT Ultimate course. “I think I did better on the ACT than I would have done if I didn’t do the course.”
Other students are more critical.
“I got more out of taking the tests that were offered in the cafeteria than taking the classes,” comments Karen Darken, a senior who took the 32-hour SAT Ultimate course. “[The instructor] knew enough about the SAT, [but] we covered material too slowly.”
Whatever the plan for prep courses is in the future, Johnston assures that something will be provided.
“We fought for three years just to get that money to offer a program,” Johnston says. “We’re going to work hard to continue to support the idea that test scores are of critical importance.”
It seems that most students would agree.