KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo College officials announced Tuesday that it is going “test optional,” meaning students applying for enrollment in the fall of 2016 will not be required to share their ACT or SAT scores.
Instead, officials say they will review a prospective student’s high school grade point average, difficulty of classes taken in high school, the application essay, co-curricular activities and letters of recommendation.
Standardized tests have been widely used since the 1920s, but there is now a growing number of four-year colleges and universities not requiring SAT and ACT scores on their applications. According to the latest list complied by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, more than 800 colleges and universities across the country have “test optional” admission.
According to a two-year study by Kalamazoo College, high school GPA was the best and most consistent predictor of academic performance at the college. The study also found scores on standardized tests tend to correspond with family income rather than academic potential.
“We thought that is was disadvantaging students who are from lower socioeconomic backgrounds,” Kalamazoo County Dean of Admissions Eric Staab said. “This does actually open up greater opportunities for all students when they apply to Kalamazoo College.”
“I think they (colleges and universities) should just look at the grades and attendance and how you did on regular testing where you had time to study,” said East Grand Rapids High School sophomore Grant Phillips, who is already taking practice SAT tests.
Amy Donohue made sure her kids studied for standardized tests and had tutors because they carry so much weight.
“They are both above-average students and will have many opportunities in life. It’s unfortunate that testing might determine what their options are for college,” Donohue said.
“I think that it (a standardized test score) is often is a first sorting tool to sort through students and that I don’t think is necessarily the right way of looking at it. It has to be a component because schools are different,” Martina Reinhold, another mother whose child is preparing for college, said.
More and more schools are going “test optional,” but Hampshire College took it a step further in 2014, going “test blind,” not considering the standardized test scores at all.
Still, thousands of schools still rely heavily on the standardized test scores, and experts say that won’t be phased out altogether any time soon.