learn / 2020

Providing Equitable SAT Prep in Los Angeles

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Collegespring

CollegeSpring will provide free school-day SAT preparation to Los Angeles high school juniors from low-income backgrounds. CollegeSpring accomplishes this mission by 1) training high school teachers to provide SAT instruction during the school day and 2) managing the logistical work that prevents schools from offering test prep in-house. By bringing test prep directly into the classroom, where all students are, CollegeSpring encourages all students to consider college as a viable option for their futures.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • LAUSD (please select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

What is the need you’re responding to?

College entrance exams are a key obstacle many young Angelenos face when applying to college. While students from higher-income households have access to private tutoring, college counseling, and test preparation outside of school, most students from low-income households do not. This fact gives students with more financial resources a clear advantage when preparing for college entrance exams. Ninety percent of CollegeSpring students in Los Angeles qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, and only 28% of graduates from Los Angeles public high schools enroll at four-year colleges and universities. Over 100,000 juniors in Los Angeles County need test prep each year. When only some students have access to adequate preparation, the test fails to fulfill its primary purpose—to fairly and accurately reflect all students’ ability to succeed in college. Equitable test preparation at a system level can help transform Los Angeles into a city where all students fulfill their college potential.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?

CollegeSpring is the only national nonprofit focused exclusively on inclusive, equitable SAT preparation, and we also have deep, longstanding relationships with many Los Angeles schools, principals, and teachers. Our Test Confidence curriculum is produced specifically for the needs of the student community we serve, offering both the academic and the social-emotional skills students need to succeed on the exam and get into college.

Our people–former teachers, curriculum specialists, doctorates, and data nerds–are passionate about education. CollegeSpring’s leadership has deep experience in education, college access, and nonprofit leadership. Their vision for CollegeSpring’s strategy as the only national nonprofit that provides SAT prep through trained classroom teachers, coupled with their expertise in college admissions and standardized testing, makes them particularly well suited to this project.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?

2,700
Direct impact
3,200
Indirect impact

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

CollegeSpring’s vision, and our ultimate goal as an organization, is to prove that it is possible to provide test preparation during the school day to all students. We want to make this an expectation nationally–not just a privilege for the lucky few students with access to test prep–because college graduation correlates with higher incomes, happiness, and civic participation. We already work with many Los Angeles high schools, and we are working to scale our program across the metropolitan area. Los Angeles has the potential to be a visionary city leading the way for the rest of the nation by showing how their public school system is committed to helping all students graduate from high school college eligible and college ready.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

CollegeSpring has a direct impact on students’ test scores, their confidence, and their broader academic performance. CollegeSpring measures program success and outcomes in four areas. Each is keyed to our core program goals, the students we serve, and the teachers who make it happen. During Academic Year 2020-21, CollegeSpring will: 1) Serve 2,700 students in Southern California. 2) Increase students’ scores by an average 100 points from their baseline score to their official SAT score. 3) Help at least 85% of students who complete the program meet all three benchmark metrics included in our measure of Test Confidence: a higher SAT score, increased knowledge about the test, and increased motivation and confidence to prepare for college. 4) Achieve at least an 85% satisfaction rate from teachers with the training they receive before implementing our curriculum and the coaching they receive during it.

These goals ensure that our program is working for individual students, that it is helping them achieve test scores that raise their college eligibility, and that it is working for school partners who administer our program.

These goals also speak to our mission to help teachers and schools create a college-going culture. SAT preparation is at the heart of our mission because higher scores increase students’ chances of gaining admission to college, getting financial aid, and achieving their educational and career goals.

Which of the learn metrics will your submission impact?​

  • College matriculation
  • Student proficiency in English & Language Arts
  • Proficiency in STEM

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?

  • Access to the LA2050 community
  • Host public events or gatherings
  • Communications support