CSU scraps SAT admission requirements in historic move

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Administrators at California State University, the nation’s largest four-year college system, agreed Wednesday to permanently drop standardized SAT and ACT tests in its admissions process, bolstering the state’s national role in education. elimination of high-stakes exams due to fairness concerns.

The move comes after the University of California system led the way, taking the bold step in 2020 to scrap the exams, sparking a national debate over whether the tests unfairly discriminate against disadvantaged students or provide a useful tool for assessing university applicants.

The dual action of California’s public university systems, which collectively educate 772,000 students, is expected to accelerate the nationwide movement to reshape the college admissions process and develop fairer ways to assess student readiness. ‘Higher Education.

“Today’s decision … sets a standard for public institutions across the country,” said Bob Schaeffer, executive director of FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing. “Combined with the elimination of standardized exam mandates by the University of California system as well as optional testing policies in place on all public campuses in Oregon and Washington State, these actions make the West Coast a national model for admissions reform.”

But ACT criticized the administrators’ action, saying it was “more likely to harm than help students”.

“Abandoning the use of objective assessments like the ACT test introduces greater subjectivity and uncertainty into the admissions process, and this move is likely to deepen entrenched inequities in California,” ACT said in a statement. “Addressing the systemic inequalities in education that exist in this country requires attention and focus on the root causes, rather than rejecting tools that significantly improve our understanding of them.”

The CSU decision follows a two-year suspension that was intended to reduce anxiety and limit testing access for applicants during the pandemic. The California State Student Association. and the California State Academic Senate also supported stopping testing.

Administrator Yammilette Rodriguez said Tuesday that the decision was personally meaningful to her and that the push for fairness would benefit many.

At a board meeting earlier this year, Rodriguez described how she attended a small, rural school without the support to guide her college journey and missed deadlines for the SAT and A. the act. She attended community college, even though she had a 4.0 GPA, instead of her preferred route to enrolling directly into a four-year college.

“I’m a product of CSU — a proud product of CSU — and I would have been a product even earlier if I could have gotten into freshman grade,” Rodriguez said Tuesday. “Due to the enrollment barriers I faced and the lack of tools I was offered as a student, I was not equipped to enter CSU, but I know that my story is the same for many all over California.”

Acting CSU Chancellor Steve Relyea agreed, saying the move “aligns with California State University’s ongoing efforts to level the playing field and provide greater access to a high-quality college degree for college students.” students from all walks of life. He added: “We are eliminating our reliance on a high-stress, high-stakes test that has shown negligible benefit and providing our candidates with greater opportunities to demonstrate their drive, talents and potential for academic success.”

More than 1,800 colleges and universities — nearly 80% of all four-year U.S. campuses that award bachelor’s degrees — have already dropped standardized test requirements for admissions. Most campuses, like Cal State’s, have made testing optional during the pandemic.

CSU’s Admissions Advisory Board recommended eliminating testing in undergraduate admissions in January following a review that began in the spring of 2021 — and on Tuesday, the Committee on Education Policy voted to do so. give it up.

April Grommo, CSU’s vice chancellor for enrollment management services, said Tuesday that the council has balanced the “long tradition of standardized test scores in higher education with concerns about the undue stress these tests impose. to students and families.

Research on the disparate results of test scores based on socioeconomic background and CSU’s goals of increasing graduation rates by 2025 were considered. A 2019 study that found high school GPA was a stronger predictor than SAT of freshman grades and sophomore retention for Cal State students. Last year, Cal State replicated this research with another cohort of students and found essentially the same results.

Without the test, the weighted criteria in admissions processes will change.

Cal State’s 23-campus system, which educates 477,000 students, has suspended testing requirements for the past two years due to the pandemic. Campuses replaced the eligibility index composed of grades and test scores with multiple factors, including high school grade point average in 15 required college preparatory courses, overall course rigor, and extracurricular activities. The context of the high school may also be considered – a school’s share of low-income students, for example, and proximity to a CSU campus to consider in priority.

With the vote to permanently end testing requirements, the Admissions Advisory Board will refine the Eligibility Index formula, recommending a required minimum GPA, the factors used for scoring, and the rollout timeline. Campuses with more applicants than seats in any or all programs would retain the ability to choose the factors to consider.

In the state of San Diego, the suspension of testing requirements for the past two years has not negatively impacted the admissions review process, said Stefan Hyman, associate vice president of health services. ‘registration. Instead of test scores, he said, examiners took a closer look at a candidate’s performance in courses relevant to planned majors – the number of advanced math courses taken and the grades a candidate earned. student applying for an engineering program, for example.

So far, preliminary evidence suggests that students admitted without test scores in fall 2021 have done as well as previous classes subject to testing requirements, Hyman said. The incoming class of 2021 had an average GPA of 3.19 in its first semester — the second highest on record — and showed an uptick in retention rates from fall to spring of 96%.

CSU’s new acting chancellor Jolene Koester, whose appointment was announced shortly before the board made its decision, said she would need data, conversations and analysis before she could share. an opinion on how the elimination of standardized tests could benefit the system. But she trusts those who led the effort.

“I know the system has involved key constituents – the advisory board, outreach to core faculty groups – and I trust those processes.”

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