Saturday, September 19, 2009

Public and Catholic schools defy College board recommendations on allowing homeschoolers to take the PSAT.

Last spring, I started looking for a place for Sam to take the PSAT test.  The PSAT test is supposed to help prepare the student  to take the SAT test later in the junior year or during the senior year. But the PSAT is probably probably better known for being tied to the National Merit Scholarship. It's the scholarship money that makes the PSAT such a big deal. .

Now with the SAT exam, you pick a date and a time, register and then show up for the test. Depending on where you live, there are plenty of opportunities to take the test. But the PSAT is only given once a year in the fall and only certain facilities offer it.

So like a good homeschool mom, I set out to sign my son up last year with my local public school to take the PSAT test, and ran smack dab into a brick wall. After being transferred via telephone to three or four different places, I finally had someone from the counseling office tell me that my son couldn't take the PSAT test at my local high school because he is not a student there and they can't allow anyone on the property who is not a student for insurance purposes. This is an outright lie. Calvin took the SAT test in that exact same high school a few years ago and he was not a student there either. But this is a battle I didn't feel like fighting with them and so I looked for other choices.

We have two Catholic high schools in the area so I called them. The first one turned me down flat and wouldn't even give an explanation other than to say they just allowed their own students to take the test.

The second high school was more interesting. In our diocese, the bishop has tried to pair up parishes into clusters. So this is actually my partner parish. In fact the youth group is a combined youth group of the two parishes. My sons go to this parish for youth group activities and my 11th grader helped with this parish's rummage sale last summer.

But none of that carried any weight with the administrators I talked to. I was told that the school is separate from the church. (This particular administrator wasn't even aware that there was a church rummage sale, let alone that the youth group participated in it). And despite my offer to bring in letters of reference from the joint-parish youth group leader as well as our pastor (parish administrator), she absolutely would not budge in allowing my son to come to take the PSAT test with their students.

This particular high school boasts famous alumnus, LeBron James. Both of the Catholic high schools managed to pack over 10,000 people into a stadium this weekend for their annual grudge match on the football field.

Steve Kellmeyer has written a couple of great posts on Catholic schools here and here.  But I digress.
Eventually I was able to find a small Christian high school quite some distance from my home that would allow Sam to test there. The counselor not only is going to allow Sam to take the test, but she sent him some information in the mail to allow him to study for it!

I'm use to fighting with my local public schools. That community continues to be closed minded regarding its
homeschooled students. But the reaction of the local Catholic schools, particularly our partner school was a little surprising.  Apparently none of these schools know that the College Board encourages local schools to welcome homeschoolers.   But the icing on the cake was to be told that the church is separate from the school which seems to confirm what Mr. Kellmeyer wrote in his posts.

I am very grateful to the lone Christian school and their willingness to actually welcome us for a few hours on an autumn morning to take this test.










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