The Chicago effect: Selective schools adopt ‘test-optional’ policy at an increasing pace

More colleges with competitive admissions are making submission of standardized test scores optional, Inside Higher Ed reports, with a new test-optional announcement every 10 days so far in 2019. Bucknell University became the latest selective school to make the change, and—in a sign that the movement is gaining momentum at larger schools—a faculty committee is examining the issue for the University of California system.

Robert Schaeffer, the public education director of FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing, notes that the pace of colleges and universities making the test-optional change has doubled in 2019, compared with recent years. The moves signal a shift in opinion on the benefits of standardized testing, particularly concerns about racial and ethnic disparities, but many experts attribute the increased pace of test-optional policies at selective schools to the University of Chicago’s decision last June to stop requiring undergraduate applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores.

A highly selective standard-bearer

Chicago’s decision has been influential in part because it helps address concerns that such changes to admissions policy could be viewed as “lacking in rigor or as trendy,” Inside Higher Ed reports. An enrollment official at the University of Denver, which announced its test-optional policy this winter, said that although the school’s consideration of the policy change pre-dated Chicago’s announcement, “certainly it helps to have a highly selective school as an example when building a compelling case.”

Along with Denver and Bucknell, eight other colleges and universities announced in the last six months that they would drop standardized testing as an admissions requirement: Evergreen State College, the University of Denver, the University of Minnesota at Crookston, Creighton University, DePauw University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Ferris State University, Springfield College, and the University of San Francisco.

For a complete list of schools that have announced test-optional admissions policies, visit Fair Test.

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