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More Schools Going ‘Test Optional’

Hanover College, a private liberal arts institution in Southern Indiana, recently announced it will no longer require standardized testing scores from the ACT or SAT when it evaluates students for admission.

Hanover, which ranks No. 122 on U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 list of National Liberal Arts Colleges, becomes the ninth Indiana higher education institution to adopt a “test optional” or “test flexible” policy. Several Capture Higher Ed partners are now test optional, including most recently Dominican College, which announced the new policy for first-time applicants to their Fall 2018 semester.

The Indianapolis Star, citing a list compiled by FairTest, reports that more than 960 accredited colleges and universities awarding bachelor’s degrees don’t use the scores when deciding admission for some or all students.

The College Board, which administers the SAT, notes that the majority of those schools are for-profit schools, special focus schools or certificate schools.

Bob Schaeffer of FairTest said the list of schools dropping the test requirement has grown by nearly 100 over the past four years and now includes 275 institutions that rank in U.S. News & World Report’s top tiers.

Jon Riester, Hanover’s vice president for enrollment management, told the Star that SAT and ACT tests carry a socioeconomic bias, and that internal Hanover data show a strong correlation between household income and performance on standardized testing.

Some critics of the standardized say students from low-income families can’t afford to pay for test-prep classes or tutors that help more affluent students boost their scores.

The College Board maintains that research shows the SAT is a valid predictor of college outcomes, including grade-point average, retention and completion. The board argues that high school grades are not objective measures because they they’re subject to variables such as school demographics, teacher discretion and state and district standards.

Pamela Horne, vice provost for enrollment management for Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., told the Star that SAT or ACT test scores offer a “common yardstick” for schools such as Purdue that enroll more than 40,000 students and receive applications from up to 5,000 high schools nationwide across the globe with differing grading scales.

She said Purdue looks at test scores in geographical context and takes other factors into account if a student’s application is strong but a test score isn’t.

By Cary Stemle, Content Writer, Capture Higher Ed

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