Some Long Island higher education institutions will not require standardized SAT or ACT test scores for admissions in fall 2023, a policy first put in place by schools when the COVID pandemic made dangerous group testing – and most say they could drop the results permanently.
The New York Institute of Technology has decided to make its temporary suspension of mandatory testing permanent for most of its undergraduate programs. Molloy and Adelphi universities, as well as the SUNY system, are also considering it.
Some Island schools have found reason to believe that mandatory testing is not necessary. There are other indicators of future academic success, they said, such as high school grade point average and program strength.
“High school GPA is the primary predictor of college success. This metric was stronger than test scores in predicting the likelihood of passing,” said Kristen Capezza, Vice President of Enrollment Management at Adelphi.
WHAT THERE IS TO KNOW
- When the COVID pandemic started in the spring of 2020, a majority of colleges and universities in the United States suspended the requirement for applicants to submit standardized test scores because congregating to take the test was deemed unsafe.
- A majority of establishments have kept the suspension in place throughout the 2023-2024 academic year.
- Some schools have decided to make testing permanently optional, and others are evaluating the policy to see if high school grades and other factors predict future college success as well as standardized test scores.
Some believe that requiring test scores discriminates against disadvantaged students whose schools may not offer advanced courses. Private test prep tutoring can cost hundreds of dollars an hour, while commercial test prep classes can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. Khan Academy offers a free online test program.
Hofstra University scrapped mandatory test scores years before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Hofstra manager Jessica Eads said the “belief that the SAT is biased against disadvantaged groups and truly inadequately predicts academic achievement at the college level” led the school to consider making the tests optional in 2015. .
The school made it official once a review of its own data found that high school GPA and students’ high school program rigor predicted their future Hofstra GPA better than their test scores.
“It was an obvious choice for us,” said Eads, vice president for student enrollment, engagement and success, adding that the university had worked hard to reduce student anxiety in the process. university application.
“They’re more of a number,” she said.
Yet 75% of Hofstra applicants still choose to submit test scores, the university said.
The standardized test, which has been an integral part of the college admissions process since 1948 – and earlier for scholarship applicants – is increasingly fragile.
According to FairTest, a group that campaigns against the tests, about 80% of higher education institutions nationwide have suspended them until 2023, with two-thirds committing to suspensions until at least 2024.
A growing number of institutions have already made testing optional – a few decades ago. They range from large public systems like the University of California to small, selective liberal arts colleges like Bates College in Maine.
Bates College presented data in a 2004 report based on its own experience, since 1984, that showed little difference in college pass rates between those admitted with or without submission of test scores.
Open the door to others
At NYIT, all undergraduate programs, except nursing and other health professions programs, no longer require SAT or ACT tests in their admissions process. And that, according to the university, has led to more applications from students of color, students who are the first in their families to go to college, and those in financial need.
Karen Vahey, dean of admissions and financial aid, said students of color “represented a larger portion of the applicant and admitted pool since the switch to elective testing” in fall 2021, including “until ‘8% increase in applications from students of color over previous years’ and an increase of up to 13% in the number of students admitted.
Additionally, first-generation applicants grew 12% “year-over-year,” and fall 2021 saw NYIT enroll its largest freshman class in 12 years, with an increase of 10. % of applicants the following year, Vahey said.
“We believe our optional testing policy has contributed to these increases,” she said.
Adelphi officials said they have also seen such increases in diversity. From fall 2019 to fall 2022, enrolled freshmen “identifying as non-white rose from 47% to 51% of the incoming class,” Capezza said. “Specifically over the same period, miscellaneous applications increased by 25.5% and offers of admission by 25.6%.”
Hofstra has also seen increases, Eads said, but attributes them to recruiting efforts and more diverse demographics in the school-age population.
However, not all institutions believe that the SAT or ACT are unfair. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the nation’s top universities, reinstated mandatory testing last March, determining that scores, particularly in math, ensured applicants were prepared for the math curriculum and actually gave socially disadvantaged students a better chance of admission.
MIT argued that the tests could identify well-prepared students who lacked the opportunity to take advanced coursework or application enhancement activities, Dean of Admissions and Student Financial Services Stuart Schmill said in a statement. a March interview with MIT News, an academic publication.
Students can study for the SAT or ACT online for free despite their high schools’ supply shortfalls, he said.
Eads, however, said: “Some schools advocate it, but not in our peer group or locally that I’ve heard.”
“A Piece of the Puzzle”
Marguerite Lane, Molloy’s associate vice president for enrollment management, said the optional testing policy came into effect in fall 2020 after most of the incoming class had already been accepted based on applications with the results of the required tests.
“When we moved to the optional test, we continued to rely on the other key indicators we’ve always used to predict student success,” she said, including high school grade point average; the rigor of their high school curriculum; Regents ranks when available; participation in student leadership and community service while in high school.
“The test results were one piece of the puzzle – in the absence of those results, we use those other pieces of the puzzle,” Lane said. “I will tell you that the test is optional, we are very pleased that the academic quality of our new freshmen has remained strong.”
She said the university hopes to make a decision on mandatory testing before fall 2024 and will continue to assess student performance data.
“I reviewed the test scores of students who were admitted and awarded scholarships based on high school GPAs without submitting test scores, and this closely matches what they would have received if they had submitted the test results,” she said. noting that some students were accepted based on high school GPAs before their test scores arrived.
“Their test score is well in line with what would have been expected and required when test scores were mandatory.”
Mandatory tests have also been suspended at St. Joseph’s University in Patchogue and LIU Post, where high scores, if submitted, could increase scholarships, according to the Office of Admissions.
SUNY schools, including Stony Brook University, SUNY Old Westbury and Farmingdale State College, are awaiting a decision from SUNY system headquarters on whether to expand elective testing beyond 2023-24.
Acting Chancellor Deborah Stanley said in a January memo that new measures “will be informed by research from the Rockefeller Institute of Government,” a nonpartisan public policy think tank.
A full assessment of the impact of optional tests on student achievement would require several years of data, said Rockefeller Institute executive director of research Laura Schultz.
“Any time you look at COVID-related population testing data, you have to consider whether those impacts are coming from the COVID pandemic itself or from testing policy,” she said.
Farmingdale, spokesman Matthew Colson, “encourages juniors to take the exams if possible, just to be prepared and to give themselves their own option to submit their score, if it’s not necessary, and if they feel that it is a true and accurate demonstration of their academic ability that would benefit from their consideration for admission.