Jul 15, 2013

SJU announces Test-Optional Admissions

St. Joseph's University
Here’s some good news for fall 2014 college applicants:  St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia is joining the growing list of colleges making the submission of standardized test scores an optional part of the admissions process.

In other words, if you don’t feel that your test scores adequately represent who you are and what you can achieve, you don’t have to submit them to St. Joseph’s when you apply.

“We know there is a population of students with strong academic records in high school who have standardized test score outcomes below our middle 50% range who are likely to be successful and difference makers at Saint Joseph’s University,” said John Haller, associate provost for enrollment management. “There is ample statistical evidence demonstrating that standardized test scores can be shaped by environmental and cultural factors that make them an inaccurate predictor of academic success.”

Acknowledging that the new policy supports St. Joseph’s Jesuit mission by facilitating access for talented students who might not otherwise get the opportunity to attend, Haller went on to note that the decision to implement test-optional admission arose from knowledge that high school GPA—even in absence of test scores--is an important predictor of first-year GPA and retention.

And those are key factors in any admissions decision.

St. Joe’s announcement comes on the heels of similar announcements made by Ithaca College, the College of Saint Rose, Lees-McRae College, and William Jewell College. 

And last fall, the University of Rochester joined a select handful of institutions with “test-flexible” policies.  In place of admissions test scores, Rochester applicants can submit result from Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams.

Both the SAT and ACT have come under increasing criticism for their failure to predict college success. A study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that two of the four parts of the ACT—science and reading—have “little or no” ability to help colleges forecast whether applicants will succeed.

And in a revealing look at high-stakes admissions tests, SAT Wars: The Case for Test-Optional Admission demonstrates the mostly negative impact of standardized testing. Edited by Wake Forest University Professor, Joseph Soars, the book presents evidence of gender and racial bias in sections of the SAT and suggests that both the SAT and ACT are weak predictors of grades.

Because of these issues and many others, the list of colleges and universities implementing test-optional policies continues to grow to about “one-third” of all four-year colleges and universities, according to Bob Schaeffer, of FairTest.

As a service to students and families, FairTest publishes a complete list of about 850 four-year colleges that do not use the SAT or ACT to admit substantial numbers of bachelor degree applicants. The list, now including St. Joseph’s University, may be found on the FairTest website—now accessed by 275,000 unique visitors annually.

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