WEST ORANGE, NJ — A group of approximately a dozen West Orange High School (WOHS) students and many of their parents attended Monday’s board of education meeting to speak out against the high school’s new mandatory SAT prep class.
WOHS student Jacob Klausner said he is organizing students to protest the mandatory nature of this class because in many cases it will force students to drop other electives that they want to take —especially in the areas of music and art, he said.
“Counselors told us you have to take the SAT prep class in your sophomore year, and if necessary they have to drop music and art electives if that is the only way to schedule it in,” said Klausner.
Resident Robin Isserles supported the students, saying, “The SAT class should be an elective like other electives they have to take.”
“It is up to the child if they want to take a SAT course,” said Lisa Bennett. “I will not make them choose SAT over band…My son plays the viola, and he has a better chance of getting into college with that talent than with SAT scores.”
Another parent, Barbara Bernstein, said that by forcing students to take the mandatory SAT class they might miss out on pre-requisites for courses they want to take as juniors and seniors.
After hearing from the students and parents, Rutzky said that students should not be told that they are required to take the SAT class in the tenth grade. He said students should be given the copportunity to opt out by doing well on the PSAT, and if needed, they can take the SAT class in the 11th grade.
According to the board, it was decided last year that a score of 550 or above on both the English and Math parts of the PSAT would qualify a student to take a waiver on the SAT course.
Rutzky agreed to meet with Moore and Mendez to discuss this issue further, and he thanked the students for bringing up the issue.
“There are very important skills that can be taken away from the SAT course beyond preparing for the SAT,” Rutzky said in defending the course. “Students in this course will be taught how to improve their individual learning skills through proven strategies.”
Board member Irving Schwarzbaum commended the students for voicing their opinions, and said that perhaps the board should look at allowing students to opt out of the course if they take it on their own through a private tutoring service or potentially offering it after school.
To read more about this meeting, where a $250,000 donation was announced for the purpose of creating Kelly Elementary School Library Media Center, click HERE.
The next WOBOE meeting is May 7 at Liberty Middle School.