- Two prominent New York institutions made their pandemic-era test-optional policies permanent this week.
- The State University of New York will not require its undergraduate colleges to collect students' standardized test scores in the admissions process, following a vote by the board of trustees Tuesday.
- Similarly, Vassar College announced Thursday prospective students can choose if they include SAT or ACT scores with their applications going forward. “Studies have shown that test scores do not always accurately measure the qualities we are looking for in students. Standardized testing simply shows who is a good test taker,” Vassar President Elizabeth Bradley said in a statement.
The test-optional admissions movement grew dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, as colleges adjusted their requirements in response to closed testing sites. Over 1,800 four-year colleges did not require first-year applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores for fall 2023.
Vassar, a highly selective college, has billed its admission process as holistic, even prior to its waiving of a test score requirement beginning with the 2020–2021 application cycle. The college said leadership elected to make the switch permanent after consulting with their admission and financial aid committee.
Ultimately, requiring standardized test scores is an access and equity issue, according to Sonya Smith, dean of admission and student financial services at Vassar.
“Many studies have shown the inequities built into standardized testing, from correlations between higher socio-economic status and higher scores to built-in biases against students of color to issues with high stakes testing and anxiety as well as stereotype threat,” she said in a statement.
SUNY, which has waived standardized testing requirements since June 2020, will allow the leadership at each of its 64 campuses to keep test scores optional if they so choose.
Staying test-optional is consistent with national trends at SUNY's peer institutions, John King Jr., the system's chancellor, said in a memorandum to trustees.
"Colleges in New York State and across the country are largely maintaining their test-optional policies and/or implementing them permanently. In addition, fewer New York State high school students are taking the SAT, especially among historically underrepresented groups," King said. King further pointed out that since SUNY went test optional, the retention rate has "stayed the same or even shrunk" between students who had submitted tests versus those who hadn't.