Many factors make a successful student, according to Shane Davidson, and standardized test scores “simply don’t capture” everything.
So it was time to make a change to the University of Evansville’s admission policy, said Davidson, UE vice president for enrollment and marketing.
To debunk the inadequate feeling some high school students may have if they don’t score high on standardized tests, UE will become a “test optional” school starting with students who apply for the 2018-19 school year. This means applicants will have the choice to opt out or submit standardized test scores from the SAT and ACT for admission consideration.
“In short, we are looking for those students with grit – and standardized test scores simply don’t capture that dimension of a prospective student’s potential for success. … We felt it important so students who work hard in the classroom (and) have really high GPAs go through that persistence test of success, but may not be the best test taker on a Saturday morning for three hours. We don’t want that to be an inhibitor to their college choice options.”
Davidson said UE officials researched the option for about a year. He said it’s important to look at students individually and holistically, not just by a test score.
Those who opt out of submitting test scores on their application will be required to submit an essay in addition to academic achievements.
“We want to be an institution for students (that's) an option for them to consider us early on in their decisions. … The essay requirement and other measures will allow us to take a holistic approach when reviewing an applicant’s potential fit at UE,” Davidson said.
The only applicants who can’t use the opt-out option are those in the baccalaureate to doctor of medicine program, engineering majors (aside from computer science students who can still opt-out) and all direct-entry health programs including nursing, physical therapy and the physician assistant program.
These programs still require standardized test scores, Davidson said, because they need post-graduate licensure, professional certifications or collaborative admission decisions with other organizations.
UE President Tom Kazee said the private university, with just less than 3,000 full-time undergraduate students, is joining more than 900 universities across the US to provide a “more comprehensive approach” to analyze admissions information.
“Substantial research has repeatedly demonstrated that performance on standardized tests is, at best, a weak indicator of potential success at the college level,” Kazee said in a news release. “By allowing students the choice to submit these scores, we’re opening up possibilities for high achieving students whose accomplishments may not shine through on a standard test.”