What, no testing?
As colleges compete for great students, some are becoming more nuanced in their application process, using portfolios and becoming test optional. This is great news for many talented students.
Hampshire College pushed the envelope further by going “test blind,” not using testing in admissions for any student. This decision led U.S. News and World Report to “unrank” Hampshire; a gutsy move by the school.
I strongly encourage you to read the Washington Post story about Hampshire College and President Jonathan Lash’s comments about what happened after they made the “test blind” leap.
President Lash describes a host of improved admissions outcomes AND increased freedom to innovate once they were unshackled from the USNWR rankings. It’s great to see this sort of brave student-centered thinking in higher education.
A large 2014 study of students at 33 public and private universities titled “Defining Promise: Optional Standardized Testing Policies in American College and University Admissions,” looked at the predictive quality of standardized tests for college success. Here are a few quotes:
“With almost 123,00 students at 33 widely differing institutions, the differences between [test] submitters and non-submitters are five one-hundredths of a GPA point, and six-tenths of one percent in graduation rates. By any standard, these are trivial differences.”
“College and university Cumulative GPAs closely track high school GPAs, despite wide variations in testing. Students with strong HSGPAs generally perform well in college, despite modest or low testing. In contrast, students with weak HSGPAs earn lower college Cum GPAs and graduate at lower rates, even with markedly stronger testing. A clear message: hard work and good grades in high school matter, and they matter a lot.”