Fewer colleges require test scores

BOSTON (AP) — More and more colleges are making SAT and ACT scores optional for admission, according to a report to be released Wednesday.
More than 280 campuses now admit some or all of their applicants without regard to the two tests. And many of them say the system has improved the academic quality — and the diversity — of their students, said the Cambridge-based National Center for Fair & Open Testing, or FairTest.
The bulk of the nation’s 1,600 schools still use the scores to determine which students will be accepted, but the report shows colleges can prosper without relying on the ubiquitous entrance exams, said Charles Rooney, the lead author of the study.
Critics say the Scholastic Assessment Test and American College Testing exams do not adequately measure a student’s intelligence or ability to perform in the classroom, and is biased against minorities. Supporters say the tests encourage high standards and increase accountability.
FairTest wants the test to be optional and has been tracking SAT admission policies for several years. FairTest said that in a less scientific survey in 1994, 192 universities made the tests optional or emphasized other criteria such as grade point average.
This is also the first time the organization has analyzed how individual schools have fared without the tests.
FairTest research into two schools in Pennsylvania, one in Maine and the public university systems in Texas and California showed that dropping tests resulted in a larger proportion of minorities, poor students and children of parents who had never attended college.
“There is a pretty sizable slice of our applicant pool and our enrolled student body for whom the tests are simply not accurate predictors,” said William Hiss, vice president for administrative services at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, which switched to an optional SAT policy in 1984.
Between one-quarter and one-third of Bates’ applicants — and at least half of all black and Hispanic applicants — do not submit any test scores, he said.