Multiple choice answer sheet with pencilJuniors’ SATs Will Soon Be Free in the Big Apple

In New York City, only 56 percent of juniors took the SAT college admission exam at least one time this year, according to the U.S. Department of Education. So New York City decided to do something about it.

Beginning this spring, New York City will offer the SAT free to all public school juniors. And, in another move to make the exam more user-friendly, it will be administered during the school day instead of on a Saturday.

The initiative will cost the city about $1.8 million per year. It is part of several efforts by Mayor Bill de Blasio to help more city graduates reach college.

Contract Awarded to Develop Quick Technology Evaluation

Do you want to know if a new technology you’re considering is really helping students?

You might see a solution coming to your classroom soon. The Department of Education has awarded Mathematica Policy Research a $3.67 million contract to develop “a suite of tools that help teachers evaluate within one to three months whether an edtech tool purchased with funds from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is helping students.”

The department hopes that this “rapid-cycle technology evaluation” can “educate and guide both educators and entrepreneurs through the research design appropriate for their tools.”

Really Coming Out of The Woodwork

In Peyton, a small, rural town in Colorado, one teacher—Dean Mattson—has been recruited to create a wood manufacturing program for Peyton Junior High and Peyton High School.

The project clearly has the business community engaged. Executives in Colorado, other U.S. states, and even foreign countries have donated about $700,000 worth of equipment to the program, and its facilities will be visited by executives from across the globe. Peyton officials hope to develop the “most advanced woodworking lab in the country.”

For more information on woodworking programs in the United States, visit the editor’s blog on

Education Department Seeks To Upgrade Teacher Quality

The Department of Education approved the plans of 17 states that attempt to meet two specific goals: boosting teacher quality and ensuring that low-income kids get their fair share of effective teachers. 

The initiative is designed to guarantee equal access to high-quality education for all students, and the approved plans include strategies for eliminating gaps by addressing localized problems. In a statement, the department said that the state plans include “solutions that support, strengthen, or modify teacher prep programs; boost data-driven decision-making; offer teachers incentives to excel or continue working in high-need schools; and publicly report progress in closing equity gaps.” 

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, “All parents understand that strong teaching is fundamental to strong opportunities for their children. We as a country should treat that opportunity as a right that every family has—regardless of race, ethnicity or national origin, zip code, wealth, or first language.”