September 22, 2016

More colleges viewing testing for entry as optional

Take Part -  Data releasedby the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, or FairTest, shows that about 870 colleges and universities are now test optional, with 50 campuses joining the movement in the last year. Half of the nation’s top liberal arts schools, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report, no longer require ACT or SAT scores from most students for admission. More than 240 “Top Tier” schools in the magazine’s 2017 rankings now have test-optional or test-flexible admissions policies.

“We’re talking places like Wesleyan and Brandeis, George Washington, American University, Holy Cross, Bates, Bowdoin, Smith, Mt. Holyoke, and Bryn Mawr. It’s big names,” said Bob Schaeffer, the public education director for FairTest.

Schaeffer said the SAT and ACT test-prep landscape has become “an arms race in which students, their parents, and teachers believe that everybody else is playing the game and taking steroids to boost their scores, and if you don’t you’re going to lose out. But that’s not true at 870-plus colleges.”

What’s driving the shift? A generation of teens educated in schools that force standardized tests on them nearly every year of their K–12 experience is a major contributing factor.

“We hear all the time from high school students that they love the test-optional movement because it guarantees that there are schools where they’ll be treated as more than a score,” Schaeffer said. “Particularly after the No Child Left Behind era of testing everything that moves, kids are fed up with constant test prep and testing and being judged by tests.”

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