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Schools Waive Standardized Testing Requirements

Colleges Alter Admissions Policies Due to Coronavirus

With high schools closed across the country, the administration of college admission tests have been cancelled through June , prompting universities nationwide to alter their standardized testing requirements.

More than 50 colleges so far have made the ACT/SAT requirement for fall 2021 admissions optional or removed it altogether, with some announcing changes that extend even further. The University of California announced that all nine of its schools will suspend the requirement for fall 2021, as did Tulane and Northeastern Universities.

Cornell University became the first Ivy League school to announce such a change. Boston University announced that testing will be optional for applicants to both fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters, while Tufts University has made the tests optional for the next three years.

Testing Companies Respond

The College Board and ACT, Inc. still stand by their testing. Ed Colby, ACT, Inc. spokesman, insists that “ACT scores are highly predictive of success in college,” and are the only admissions factor that can level the academic playing field, citing a review by the University of California’s Standardized Testing Task Force. To help students and teachers affected by coronavirus, ACT has launched a website with free resources. Jerome White, spokesman for the College Board, told CNN that additional SAT testing dates would be made available “as soon as the public health situation allows.”

A permanent shift to dismiss testing requirements could be the death of companies that administer the exams. Lobbying is typically the best route for standardized testing companies to regain lost market share, but current social distancing makes that difficult to do. When it’s once again physically feasible, state legislatures facing economic difficulties may decide that testing, which costs millions of dollars per year, isn’t worth it and will cut funds for the exams.

Administrators and Educators Look for Answers

Changes to standardized testing policies are currently meant to be temporary, but advocacy groups believe this could be a moment for long-term change. Bob Schaeffer, Interim Executive Director of FairTest, insists that making testing optional benefits both students and universities: “Schools get more applicants and a more diverse pool of applicants, so it’s a win for them. And on the student side, the opportunity to be evaluated by more than a score is very appealing.”

Anti-testing sentiment is supported by research. Several studies have shown that students from families with greater financial resources tend to score higher on both the ACT and SAT.

Educators, admissions professionals, and testing companies, will all be scratching their heads to try to find the answers as the world adjusts to the realities of remote learning.

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