Jul 9, 2011

‘Test-Optional’ Programs to Continue at Salisbury and American

Following a growing trend in college admissions, Salisbury and American universities will continue to emphasize the role of holistic review over that of standardized testing by sticking with "test-optional" policies originally implemented as pilot programs.

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents recently approved Salisbury University’s continuation of its test-optional program for freshman applicants. The decision follows a five-year pilot study of the program which is targeted to “high achieving” students.

“I like to think of it as a program that rewards strong work ethic, as our research shows that the students admitted through the policy both out-perform and out-retain what their scores would suggest,” said Aaron Basko, SU’s director of admissions. “In particular, we noted the course completion rates for test-optional students were consistently higher than their peers.”

Salisbury’s five-year study of the test-optional program yielded a number of interesting results involving key indicators of student success beyond academic performance.

“The pilot study has shown that test-optional students perform as well as their classmates and that the graduation rates of test-optional students are actually slightly higher,” commented SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach. “The program has also contributed to greater economic diversity among our incoming students.”

Salisbury applicants who have earned a cumulative weighted grade point average of 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale may choose whether or not to submit standardized test results. Applicants choosing not to submit scores must provide a personal statement to support individual achievements and/or experiences that may not be evident from a review of official high school transcripts.

The announcement from Salisbury follows a similar decision from American University, which also decided to continue its test-optional pilot program for coming year. In its third year, the AU test-optional policy places admissions emphases on student fit and performance in the classroom.

Students within the US who do not wish to submit standardized test scores as part of their application to AU may do so provided that they complete all and submit all application materials by the November 1 test-optional deadline. This goes for Early Decision (ED) as well as regular decision applicants.

Other colleges dropping SAT/ACT admissions testing requirements in recent months include Bryant University, DePaul, Virginia Wesleyan College, the Sage Colleges, Eugene Lang, Manhattanville, Moravian, and Wagner. Colorado College adopted a test-flexible process, which allows applicants to substitute a mix of scores from other tests including Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams, for the ACT/SAT.

Fair Test, a nonprofit organization dedicated to a reduction in the role of standardized testing in college admissions, maintains the complete and growing list of test-optional colleges and universities on their website.

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