Can the Pandemic Force Colleges into Alternative Testing Methods?

While the health crisis is escalating, universities are removing the SAT and ATC from the list of essentials for admission. This tendency is expected to be progressing.
The previous year of 2019 was successful for supporters of alternative testing methods. Over 50 institutions almost simultaneously proclaimed that the traditional SAT and ACT were no longer needed. The vast majority of universities will not even pay attention to those who have already passed the exams.

According to the school administrations, today, more accurate methods of testing aptitude and knowledge are at our disposal. Occasionally, it is connected with statements of those who oppose the SAT and ACT and consider that the testing process is subjective and much more beneficial for wealthy young people, whose parents can afford expensive tutoring.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is in progress, hindering the education system procedures, the imbalance mentioned above is being detected, according to testing experts.

The organization that manages the SAT and ATC scrapped exams arranged for May. Traditionally, it is a gap for seniors to pass their SAT and ATC and get ready to apply for higher education. Students from less fortunate families are facing challenges of studying for exams.

About six universities declared that they would definitely adjust their requirements to the application or cancel the traditional demand for exams. Some were contemplating alternative policies before the public crisis and major shutdowns, but the spread of the virus interfered.

According to Bob Schaeffer, who is an admission testing critic and the interim executive director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, the controversy with the ATC and SAT as a sole indicator of academic proficiency is only escalating after the beginning of the public health crisis.

For instance, according to Schaeffer, the purpose of the ATC is to demonstrate proficiency in the school program of study. Due to the fact that some schools implemented distance learning or completely canceled the last few months of the school curriculum, successfully passing the ATC is hardly possible. This year, the ATC will not be a common criterion of knowledge.

Among colleges that decided to cancel the testing for 2020 applicants in upcoming semesters is the University of Toledo, Ohio. According to Jim Anderson, the vice president for enrollment management, the university implemented more adjustable admission rules and requirements for students in the year 2021, but the global health crisis speeded up innovations.

Young people who are applying for specializations like nursing and engineering are obliged to pass entrance tests. Overall, the admission board admits that not all the applicants will be able to sit the exams.

Anderson stated that the COVID-19 pandemic facilitated the conversation about the ‘digital gap.’ According to Jim Anderson, some students simply cannot access quality internet to proceed with homeschooling and preparation for exams. Moreover, students cannot reach their counselors because all schools are closed.

Schools were shut down in order to prevent the spread of the disease, and it resulted in many complications in the admission process. At least 46 states closed schools for the period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many secondary schools make use of remote education. These changes can cause difficulties for those students who do not have access to the Internet or have chores, such as looking after siblings.

Some schools are exchanging letter grades for exam assessment. Moreover, Advanced Placement tests can be conducted in a new format. The test can be taken at home, and the new form excludes multiple-choice questions.

These actions can result in an incomprehensive summary of college entrants’ academic abilities. By the way, some colleges still require the SAT and ATC, and in case of inconsistency in records, the admission committee will be likely to have difficulties in the evaluation and making the final decision.

According to Jay Rosner, the GPA is still an objectively better measure of students’ knowledge and abilities compared to the SAT and ATC.

According to Rosner, who is an expert on college testing and the executive director of the Princeton Review Foundation, the admission staff will be able to check the first and the second years and the first semester of both junior and senior years.

The resent study confirms Rosner’s statement. It discovered that the GPA is five times more correct than the ATC when it comes to predicting graduation rates.

Rosner stated that the admission process is creative and involves not only a simple grade check. He said that this procedure bears a resemblance to art, not science. According to Rosner, the admission staff can make a selection without junior year data.

During the current admission season, the University of Toledo is trying to adjust to the situation as quickly as possible. In case of no data regarding the GPA and exam scores, the admission staff will pay attention to ‘a student’s story’ or counselor recommendations.

Now it is unclear if universities will proceed with the no-testing strategy after the pandemic is conquered. Case Western Reserve University reported the decision to implement test-optional admissions for the next year. Nevertheless, for future students, the requirement will be reexamined.
There are universities in Pennsylvania that allowed test-optional admissions: Millersville University, Mansfield University, and Westminster College.

Moreover, Oregon State University and Drury University stated that they consider test-free options for students. Speaking of MIT, it will also not take into account the SAT results for applicants from the fall of 2021 and later.

Schaeffer predicts that more universities will cancel exam requirements. The admission officers have not implemented corrections to exam procedures in the winter. Furthermore, the fact that many schools are using it now means it will be popular in the next months.

According to his predictions, the number of schools adopting test-optional admission requirements will rise.

Source: educationdive.com