Temple University announced this week that it is joining a number of other universities with an alternate entrance path that sidesteps standardized tests like the ACT and SAT. Students who ditch the exam need to show good high school GPA and be in the top 10 to 15 percent of their class, Philadelphia's Newsworks reported.
"There are just lots of talented students out there who are being disadvantaged because of the sole reliance on SAT as the sometimes determining factor in their admission," William Black, Temple's senior vice provost for enrollment management, told Newsworks.
CBS Philly notes that Temple spent over a year researching the model before they announced it and concluded that high school GPA is actually a better indicator of success in the college classroom than SAT scores.
“We’ve developed a series of four, short-answer, self-reflective questions that we will ask students who chose to apply through this path rather than the traditional path that would include submitting standardized test scores,” Bill Black, senior vice provost for enrollment management, told CBS Philly.
The Temple move occurs as the hegemony of standardized tests are being widely questioned. In February, a study was released that tracked test optional admissions in 33 colleges and universities. Comparing those who submitted tests to those admitted through the alternate path, the study found a very negligible difference both in graduation rates and grades achieved in the classroom, PBS Newshour reported at the time.
“The evidence of the study clearly shows that high school GPA matters. Four-year, long-term evidence of self-discipline, intellectual curiosity and hard work; that’s what matters the most. After that, I would say evidence that someone has interests that they have brought to a higher level, from a soccer goalie to a debater to a servant in a community to a linguist. We need to see evidence that the student can bring something to a high level of skill,” former dean of admissions for Bates College's William Hiss told PBS.
As Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post noted, the study found that "students who are most likely not to submit their scores are minorities, women, first-generation-to-college enrollees, Pell Grant recipients and students with learning differences." The push against standardized tests is thus part of a broader effort to open up wider college opportunities to nontraditional students.
The science is not quite settled, however. Back in 2012 the research journal Psychological Science published a major study of over 143,000 students and 110 colleges which concluded that the SAT remained a valuable predictor of college success, regardless of the socioeconomic background of the student.
"Based on these findings," the Association for Psychological Science News reported, "it seems that low-SES students are not under-represented in colleges because low SAT scores prevent them from gaining admission, but rather because fewer low-SES students apply to college in the first place."
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