MACAC's Test-Optional Statement:
Dear MACAC members,
At this time a super majority of colleges and universities in the United States--including 99% of MACAC post-secondary institutions--are operating as test-optional or test-free for the current admissions cycle. MACAC believes, and the research supports, that all colleges and universities have the capacity to make such a shift permanent, and that doing so will be beneficial for students, families, high schools, colleges, and universities.
This is an equity issue. Any conversation on standardized testing must start with its racist origins. In the words of author, professor, and historian Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, “The use of standardized tests to measure aptitude and intelligence is one of the most effective racist policies ever devised to degrade Black minds and legally exclude Black bodies.” In recent years, studies have consistently demonstrated the biases that persist in contemporary standardized tests, negatively impacting BIPOC students, women, first generation students, rural students, English language learners, and students with fewer financial resources. Relying on these exams maintains a status quo that supports oppression. As MACAC works to become an organization that strives towards anti-racism, we cannot support standardized testing and the effects it has on our most vulnerable students.
This is a practical issue. The preponderance of evidence illustrates admission tests add limited utility in making meaningful admissions decisions. Among MACAC’s own membership, 95% of post-secondary institutions responded that these tests provide slight or no meaningful information in predicting student success. With these facts in mind, MACAC calls on colleges and universities to commit to removing standardized tests as requirements not only for admission, but also for scholarship and special program consideration.
This is a safety issue. While MACAC encourages a permanent move to a completely test optional admissions cycle, this statement is especially pertinent given the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic. During these unprecedented times, the safety of our members and students is paramount. Our state legislature should not mandate standardized testing for all high school juniors when safe testing cannot be assured. Most importantly, school staff should not be compelled to administer tests in group settings, and students should not be asked to take tests in such circumstances.
Among MACAC’s secondary school members, 94% would like to see test-optional or test-blind admissions become a long-term or permanent move. Among MACAC’s post-secondary members, 89% have already implemented or hope to implement long-term or permanent test-optional or test-blind admissions.
Of course, MACAC recognizes that there are often many layers of governance involved—including presidents, trustees, and state legislators—in the process of making a permanent decision on going test optional. Therefore, this call is intended to address all stakeholders who have a role in making decisions about testing policy.
That call is, following MACAC’s goal to empower students and its members, to encourage all colleges and universities to permanently remove requirements for standardized testing.
MACAC polled it’s secondary and post secondary members to hear their thoughts, challenges, and questions related to Test Optional updates and how it affects their role, students and institution they work at.
'Test Optional' or 'Test Free' Colleges
What is Test Optional or Test Free?
'Test Optional' 'Test Free' or 'Test Blind' Means students have the choice of whether they wish to submit an SAT or ACT score as part of their application and would not be penalized if they do not. Means those colleges will not review an SAT or ACT score as part of their admission or scholarship process.
What Colleges are Test Optional or Test Free?
- More than 70% of all colleges are test optional or test blind for the class of 2021.
- 57% of all colleges are test optional or test free for the class of 2022 (As of March 3, 2021).
NACAC unified colleges to sign a contract where the message to students and families is simply that test-optional means test-optional and that students won’t be subject to penalty if they do not present a test score during the upcoming admission cycle. The institutions that have signed this statement are affirming that students without a test score will not be disadvantaged.
Quick read- Test optional means test optional and why
“The College Board, which owns the SAT, disclosed last month that more than half of the 334,000 students who had registered for a Sept. 26 session were unable to take the test because of pandemic restrictions. Given the upheaval, the College Board has urged colleges to be as flexible as possible in their requirements.”
Navigating Test Optional Admissions & Eligibility – College Athletic Advisor
Many updates and statements from colleges -
One example from St. Edwards, ‘Applying to college is stressful enough in a normal year. During a pandemic, everything gets more complicated. St. Edward’s has always tried to make the admission process as personal, individualized and supportive as possible. One way we’re reducing the pressure is by becoming test optional. We have learned that test scores are not the best way to assess whether a student can be successful at St. Edward’s, so we’re not requiring them. Read more’
- Get on the college’s email list, check out their website, and reach out to their Admissions Counselors to learn more.
Large study finds nearly identical academic performance by students who submitted and didn't submit SAT or ACT scores at test-optional colleges.
NACAC encourages public institutions and systems to make submitting standardized admission test scores optional for the 2021–22 admission cycle based on equity considerations and the cost of the tests imposed on high schools and students/families.
“…Evidence illustrates admission tests add limited utility…”
Study comparing outcomes of test submitters versus non-submitters at test-optional colleges
Study on course placement – multiple measures worked better than placement test scores alone. Analyzed combination of factors to include placement test (i.e. Accuplacer) - did not evaluate ACT/SAT exam scores. The result of the research indicated using more factors to allow more students to enroll in college level courses was beneficial to student outcomes.
Report of the University of California Academic Council Standardized Testing Task Force – the committee found that, “…standardized test scores aid in predicting important aspects of student success, including undergraduate grade point average (UGPA), retention, and completion. At UC, test scores are currently better predictors of first-year GPA than high school grade point average (HSGPA), and about as good at predicting first-year retention, UGPA, and graduation” (p. 3).
Despite the findings by the committee, the University of California system decided to go test optional, but the research and evaluation of the system’s admission policies and practices were evaluated thoroughly in the research.
The College Board, which owns the SAT, disclosed last month that more than half of the 334,000 students who had registered for a Sept. 26 session were unable to take the test because of pandemic restrictions. Given the upheaval, the College Board has urged colleges to be as flexible as possible in their requirements.
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