Most four-year universities require applicants to take either the ACT or the SAT, meaning high school students across the country must wake up early on a Saturday morning, trudge over to a local high school and fill out a bunch of circles that will determine much of their future.
However, Creighton University President Rev. Daniel Hendrickson announced last week the university would be getting rid of the standardized test requirement from its admissions process. Students will still be able to submit their ACT and SAT scores on their application, but it will be optional, not required.
Creighton’s website says the change is to be implemented with the goal of, “expanding upon strategic initiatives and diversity and inclusion efforts.” The goal of the strategic initiatives is to upgrade the university’s selection process to admit more successful students and thus improve the university. They will do this by prioritizing four years in the classroom over four hours of a single test, believing this will give the administration a more holistic view of a student’s academic career. The goal of diversity and inclusion efforts is to increase the number of “disadvantaged candidates” or people who are affected by implicit biases in tests, such as non-white students or those of a lower socioeconomic status.
By eliminating standardized test requirements, Creighton will improve the predictability of applicants’ four-year college outcomes, increase diversity and encourage long-term success and dedication instead of short-term prowess. Because of these reasons, other universities should follow suit and remove their test requirements.
Creighton is switching from using standardized test scores as the main metric for screening applicants to using grade point average. This will likely help the school in its search for students who will do well in college, as GPA is actually a better indicator of college outcome than SAT scores. This is because the SAT and other standardized test scores only measure aptitude or general academic ability, and there is a lot the score leaves out.
The ACT, for example, cannot measure motivationally determined outcomes or outcomes which require additional work other than the ability to score well on a single test. GPA, on the other hand, gives a better picture of a student than test scores because it can track qualities such as motivation, work ethic and study habits.
The difference in judging a student’s college readiness using GPA rather than standardized tests is similar to the difference between determining how big someone is by how much they weigh rather than how much they ate in a single day. Both will give you information to help answer the question, but the former takes into account accumulated, long-term factors that a day’s worth of data will not provide. GPA and the number on the scale are more detailed and robust pieces of information. The better the information provided, the better and more accurate the decision.
Making standardized test submissions optional and focusing more on GPA will also foster more diversity on campuses. Dropping test requirements has been a growing trend across American universities. Institutions such as the University of Chicago, DePaul University, the University of Arizona and Arizona State University have dropped their requirements for the same reason: there are demonstrated racial biases in testing. These biases lead to considerable disparities in test results; white, Asian and high-income students perform much better than other ethnic minorities and low-income students, meaning measuring applicants by their test scores inhibits the diversification of student bodies. Dropping the test requirement has been shown to increase diversity at universities who have tried it and prioritizing GPA will help correct these biases by removing the distorted measure that is the SAT.
Most importantly, on a general societal level, the decision to remove testing requirements enforces the idea that larger bodies of work should speak louder than smaller ones. Society as a whole, including universities, should make judgments based on long-term observations of people, not one-time occurrences. A human being’s worth should not be callously determined by circles on a scantron. Viewing people holistically is not only the most equitable way to measure their abilities, but also their intelligence.
The fact that high school GPA is a better predictor of college success than standardized tests is probably surprising to most people. The conventional wisdom goes that colleges need some kind of an objective way to measure applicants because GPA is arbitrary and uncomparable across high schools. These claims are not supported by research though, GPA is a better predictor of college completion than standardized test scores.
It is also worth noting that removing test requirements and focusing on applicants’ GPA will likely only increase ethnic and racial diversity, not socioeconomic. Extensive studies have shown there is a similar disparity between income classes in high school GPA as there is in SAT scores. While this is not ideal, increasing racial and ethnic diversity is still a positive move for universities, even if achieving socioeconomic diversity is still a ways away.
Standardized tests only measure students based on one morning of filling out circles, wiping out four years of hard work and dedication. It is a distorted, flawed and biased measure that shows relatively little about the students it needlessly torments. Creighton is wise in removing its test requirement and other colleges and universities should do the same.
Kyle Sheehy is a freshman economics major. Reach him via firstname.lastname@example.org or via @DNopinion.