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More than twice as many San Diego Unified students took the Pre-Scholastic Aptitude Test this school year compared to last — a jump from 7,497 tests to 16,687 tests, according to Chief High School Improvement Officer Nellie Meyer.

Staffers chalk up the leap to San Diego Unified paying for the tests for all students and providing the chance to take them to 9th and 11th graders as well as 10th graders. In the past, San Diego Unified only made the test available to 10th graders and waived the $10 fee only for students who qualify for free or reduced lunches based on their family income, Meyer said.

Taking the test can have an impact: High scores on the PSAT qualify students for National Merit scholarships and recognition. Superintendent Terry Grier has also written that PSAT results are closely correlated with being able to succeed in Advanced Placement classes, which Grier is trying to expand in the school district to serve more disadvantaged students and students of color. Underrepresentation of black, Latino and low-income students in tough Advanced Placement classes has been an issue nationwide.

Meyer did not have figures available Tuesday morning for the difference in cost. If each additional test cost San Diego Unified only the $10 fee, the added expense would likely exceed $91,900.

EMILY ALPERT

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