Half of the U.S.’s top 100 colleges no longer require ACT or SAT scores, according to a Wednesday report.
Students do not need to submit ACT or SAT scores or spend money related to preparation and administration of these tests to apply to 50 out of the U.S. News’ “Top 100” colleges, according to a press release from the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest), an organization which strives for test-optional admission.
“The past four years – since the redesigned SAT was introduced – have seen the fastest growth ever of schools dropping ACT/SAT mandates,” said Bob Schaeffer, public education director for FairTest.
More than 1,000 colleges do not require submission of ACT and SAT results to apply. But ACT believes that the statistic is misleading.
“If colleges did not see any value in test scores, then they would not be test-optional; they would be test-free,” Ed Colby, ACT’s senior director of media and public relations, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Many of the schools on the list still require many or most applicants to submit test scores; the option [not to include a test score] may exist for only a subset of students,” Colby said. “Some institutions limit the option to students who attain a minimum high school GPA or who enroll in specific majors, while others require alternative measures.”
Fifty-eight percent of 300 schools surveyed by Kaplan in September 2017 reported receiving more ACT scores than they had in 2014 or 2012.
Jaslee Carayol, associate director of media relations at College Board, the nonprofit which operates the SAT, also criticized FairTest’s report when speaking with TheDCNF.
She said that about 115 of the schools listed by FairTest are for-profit, highlighting the 17-student Academy of Couture Art. She also claimed that approximately 230 of them are special focus schools.
“More than 70 are two-year or certificate schools, and an additional 315 are open-admission schools or schools that were never primary users of college entrance exams to begin with,” Carayol told TheDCNF. “After excluding these types of colleges (and those that require a college entrance exam for all but the highest performing students), only a small number of schools on this list —about a quarter — prove to be true test-optional institutions for academic degree-seeking students.”
FairTest drew conclusions pertaining to the traditional grade-exam combination used by college applicants.
“Studies show that an applicant’s high school record – grades plus course rigor – predicts undergraduate success better than any standardized exam,” said Schaeffer. “By going test-optional, colleges increase diversity without any loss in academic quality. Eliminating testing requirements is a ‘win-win’ for both students and schools.”
Carayol, however, claimed that while “anecdotal accounts” pointed towards those policies’ ability to increase a diversity of applicants, they did not show a heightened diversity of admitted students.
Colby also contested the scientific findings, claiming that “hundreds of independent studies” prove that grades and test scores together serve as the best measurement for college performance.
“College and university leaders are sending a clear message,” the FairTest director claimed. “Test scores are not needed to make sound educational decisions. It’s time for K-12 policy makers to pay attention and back off their testing obsession for public schools.”
However, Colby disagrees.
“Test scores provide a common, standardized metric that allows colleges to evaluate students who attend different high schools, live in different states, complete difference courses with different teachers, and receive different grades on a level playing field,” he said. “No other factor used in admission decisions can do that.”
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