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Goucher College dropping SATs as requirement for admissions

Goucher College
has dropped the requirement that applicants submit SAT
scores, the second four-year institution in Maryland
to do so.

Sanford J. Ungar, president of the small, private liberal
arts college, said Goucher’s decision to experiment with optional SAT
scores was influenced by the positive experiences of other colleges.

“The schools that have already done this have found
that their applicant pool tends grow larger, be more diverse and to give them
at least as good a class as they’ve had before,” he said.

Among those schools is Salisbury University. Officials there
said last week that early results suggest the policy is boosting interest in
the school from qualified applicants.

A growing body of research has shown that scores on
standardized tests, including the SAT and
ACT, are no better at predicting success in college than high school grades and
achievement tests in individual subjects.

A study published in June of students admitted to the
University of California system found that SAT
scores “add little if any” predictive information to high school
grades, said Saul Geiser, a co-author of the report.

Critics of the SAT also
say it puts low-income and minority students at a disadvantage. Such students
tend to receive lower schools, in part because of limited access to
test-preparation services.

At Goucher, applicants will be able to decide whether to
have their standardized test scores count in the admissions process. All
students who take the SAT or ACT will still
have to report scores before they enroll for academic counseling and research

The New York-based College Board, which administers the SAT,
points out that even when given the option, most students still take
standardized tests and submit their scores. It also argues that the SAT
provides a safeguard against grade inflation.

“It should also be noted that test-optional colleges
are not dropping testing, they are making it optional,” spokeswoman Nancy
Viggiano wrote in an e-mail to The (Baltimore) Sun. “The most selective
colleges, including all Ivy League schools, still require test scores. In
addition, the nation’s public flagship universities require test scores.”

FairTest, an advocacy group that is critical of the way
standardized tests are used, hailed Goucher’s move.

The decision “continues an important trend in which
particularly selective liberal arts colleges are recognizing that they don’t
need the SAT or ACT to do high-quality
admissions work,” said Robert Schaeffer, public education director of

More than a quarter of the schools in U.S. News and World
Report’s top 100 liberal arts college rankings now use some variation of
test-optional admissions, Schaeffer said.

Other Maryland
institutions, including the University
of Baltimore, Bowie
State University
and Frostburg State
University, have said they’re
considering test-optional admissions.

Salisbury University
last year waived SAT requirements for
applicants with high school grade-point averages of 3.5 or better. Students who
applied without submitting test scores had better grades and were admitted at
twice the rate of other students, officials said.

The university has also seen an 11 percent jump in
applications since it went to the new policy.

Information from: The (Baltimore)

– Associated Press

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