California College Nixes Test Scores for Admissions, Prefers a 'Strong Message About Equity'

(AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Mark Felix, File)

Between academic meritocracy and ensuring an equal outcome for all, which is better?

In the view of Pitzer College, evidently, it’s not the former.

As reported by Campus Reform, the California institution’s making a powerful statement where equity is concerned.

Hence, it’ll no longer use such inequitable things as tests to determine who gets in.

The school calls the approach “test-blind.”

Consider it cultural consistency: We live in a world of participation trophies; over time, the principal will naturally reach more societal sectors.

Rejection is the opposite of empowerment, and these days, empowerment’s key.

Per a June 8th press release, Pitzer proclaimed its position.

To be clear, it hasn’t required tests for almost 20 years:

Nearly two decades after becoming the first college on the West Coast to adopt an SAT-optional admission policy, Pitzer College will switch to a test-blind admission policy for at least three years, beginning with the admission cycle for fall 2022. Pitzer’s College Council approved a three-year pilot phase for the policy in May.

So, what’s “test-blind” all about? This:

[S]cores from standardized college entrance tests — the SAT and ACT — will be eliminated from the admission review process entirely. With the previous test-optional policy, applicants could decide whether they wanted to submit SAT or ACT scores as part of their application package. In recent years, more than 40 percent of applicants who were admitted to Pitzer opted out of including standardized test scores.

Eighteen years ago, the college determined difference in test scores couldn’t be ascribed to academic astuteness:

One of the arguments for going test-blind now is the same as the one that drove Pitzer’s decision to go test-optional in 2003: Scores on standardized tests reflect socio-economic privilege more than college preparedness.

Pitzer Vice President for Admission and Financial Aid Yvonne Berumen made that clear in a September memo:

“Studies have shown that standardized testing is a better indicator of family wealth and ability to pay for test prep services than future success at Pitzer.”

Admissions, the school explains, come courtesy of a “holistic approach.”

The considerations:

High school transcripts
Academic rigor of courses
GPA
Essays

But also:

Recommendations
Interests
Extracurriculars

Plus:

“How well the applicant fits with the ‘Pitzer essence’ that is shaped by the College’s core values and educational objectives”

“[T]esting is only one small factor,” Yvonne says. “Academic excellence is always important, but we are also interested in learning how students connect with our core values because that answers the ‘fit’ question.”

And:

“The elimination of standardized test scores from our review process entirely has the potential to send a strong message about equity, access, inclusivity, and excellence.”

Pitzer’s not alone — especially in California.

For more, see “It’s Official: No More Test-Based Admissions for University of California’s System.”

Will such a strategy produce something positive? It seems to me that, across the nation, if admissions aren’t determined by tests as they once were, eventually, graduations won’t be either.

Related:

And if I had to guess, I’d wager the less people are required to do well, the less they’ll try.

Then again, perhaps a nation full of the sharpest minds will result.

Will it?

Or — across America — are increasingly permissive policies…the Pitz?

-ALEX

 

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