ESU Announces Plans to Drop SAT, ACT Scores from Admissions Process
The Office of Admissions in conjunction with the Office of Academic Affairs at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania (ESU) is introducing a pilot approach to student recruitment for spring 2017; it’s eliminating the mandatory submission of SAT and ACT scores, a long-standing requirement of the admissions process. ESU will be the first university within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education to introduce test-optional admissions for all applicants, which launches ESU into an elite group of more than 850 educational institutions nationwide including many colleges and universities that are now test optional, such as Temple University, Bryn Mawr College, Duquesne University, Franklin and Marshall College, Juniata College and Saint Joseph’s University.
The decision to join the ranks of test optional universities was taken in concert with Academic Affairs, directed by Provost Joanne Bruno, J.D. The primary use of the scores has been for placement in freshman English, mathematics classes, and science placements rather than in the selection process. Discussions on replacing test scores by other means allowed the conversation to focus on the role test scores play in reducing access to otherwise talented and qualified prospective students.
Nationally, standardized test scores have repeatedly been cited as barriers that have prevented worthy candidates from applying to colleges and universities.
“We’ve examined best practices and results from a number of institutions prior to our decision to run a test-optional pilot for ESU,” said David Bousquet, vice president for enrollment management. “There is evidence that standardized tests are not the best predictor of college success. Rather, the level of courses selected and the grades received in those college preparatory courses continue to stand as the best predictor of college success.”
“There appears to be campus-wide consensus to give this pilot test-optional initiative a try and then to assess the results,” said Peter Hawkes, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “ESU’s Council of Trustees is also very supportive of this trial and hopes that the pilot offers increased access to education for those seeking such opportunities.”
Increasingly many colleges and universities are moving away from requiring standardized test results as a part of the admissions process. In a 2015 article in Maine’s Morning Sentinel, it was reported that The College Board, the not-for-profit organization that administers the SAT, reported the number of non-profit, four-year colleges in the U.S. that require or recommend standardized test scores has declined from 82 percent in 2003 to 78 percent in 2013.
“There are students who do not fare well on these on standardized tests but present a record of solid grades. By removing the stigma of poor standard test results, we hope to remove a barrier for students who don’t think their SAT or ACT scores are accurate indicators of their academic ability,” Bousquet said. “Students will still have an option to submit their SAT and ACT scores if they choose.”
“We are looking forward to this pilot program,” said Jeff Jones, director of admissions. “Removing an emphasis on standardized test scores from the admission process will enable us to place greater emphasis on grades, curriculum, extracurricular activities, community service and attendance.”
Bousquet added that the test-optional pilot may widen the 2017 applicant pool and encourage students who might otherwise shy away from East Stroudsburg University to give the university a more serious look. Once the pilot is underway, a review of the academic performance of those who submit and those who elect not to submit test scores will be conducted following the 2017-2018 academic year.