Sep 19, 2009

Colleges Fumble Score Choice™

As the 2009-2010 application season kicks into gear, it’s evident that a number of colleges and universities still have not gotten the message about SAT Score Choice™ . An informal review of college websites shows that few institutions have adjusted their standardized test instructions or otherwise provided specific guidance on school policies in response to the change in reporting options. In fact, some schools have not updated their web pages from as far back as 2005. The problem is so bad that in many cases it is nearly impossible to discern where a school stands on score reporting.

Why is this a problem? It’s a problem because colleges aren’t considering how difficult the question has become for students trying to complete applications and request scores from the College Board. For confirmation, just look at the heated discussions generated on student message boards. Confusion and bad advice are tangled with ethical and moral dilemmas that could be easily solved with a little more information. Of course the easiest solution is just to send all scores to all schools, but not everyone wants to do that.

In a recent communication from the College Board, I was advised that in addition to the PDF contained on their website, information on school Score Choice policies can be found by searching each school’s College Board profile. While this is true in most cases, searches for Cal Tech, Brigham Young University, Tulane, NYU, the University of Denver, and other schools produced messages indicating the information was not available. Some of these colleges weren’t even listed on the College Board PDF--as if they didn't exist. To make matters worse, several school websites were so difficult to navigate or impossible to interpret that the question remained unanswered even after taking College Board advice and going directly to the school for guidance.

Compounding the problem, test prep organizations and news sources released charts or lists purporting to show participation in Score Choice. One frequently-circulated chart shows Johns Hopkins, American University, Beloit, George Mason, York College, and others as requiring submission of all test scores and NOT participating in Score Choice. Not so. While maybe late to the game, all these schools have agreed to allow students the flexibility of reporting whatever scores they want.

And the fun doesn’t end there. A number of the colleges and universities listed by the College Board as requiring all scores don’t appear from their websites to have this policy in mind. For example, Duquesne, Barry, Stetson, and Susquehanna all suggest a level of flexibility in score submission on their web pages that may be inconsistent with the information provided by the College Board on their school profiles.

So what’s the solution? Colleges and universities simply need to amend their websites to include a statement laying out their Score Choice policy. Clarification, discussion, and/or mention of the ACT in relation to the program would also be helpful. A student should be able to use the search function contained right smack in the middle of a school’s homepage to discover in one click what scores a school requires vs. what scores they would prefer to receive. And polite terms such as “request” or “recommend” or “ask that” are not helpful. Just spit it out: may a student use Score Choice or not? And if this policy extends to the ACT’s, such as in the case of Georgetown, simply say so.

There’s no reason for colleges and universities to make this situation more difficult than it already is. If it’s a matter of expense to revise websites, I recommend going to the source of the problem and asking for reimbursement.

No comments:

Post a Comment