Letters to the Editor

Letter: Brown should go test-optional

By
Sunday, October 15, 2017

To the Editor:

Thanks to Owen Colby for making such a compelling case for Brown to adopt test-optional admissions (“Colby ’20: It’s time for Brown to go test-optional,” Oct. 10). It is abundantly clear that Brown’s goal of increasing diversity and access would be strengthened by de-emphasizing SAT and ACT scores and moving to test-optional admissions.

More than a third of all accredited, bachelors degree granting colleges and universities in the U.S. now make admissions decisions about all or many applicants without regard to their ACT or SAT scores.

The long-term experience of early adopters like Bates College and others shows both the student body and the university as a whole benefit powerfully from the change. Test-optional colleges report more diversity of all kinds, including by race, first-generation college-going, geography, academic interest and learning difference. They also gain an academically stronger applicant pool, as measured by high school GPA and class rank.

A report on test-optional admissions called “Defining Promise” looked at the records of more than 123,000 students at 33 institutions and found “no significant differences in undergraduate success rate between test-score submitters and non-submitters.”

Even the Harvard Graduate School of Education, in its “Turning the Tide” report, advocated for “redefining achievement in ways that both level the playing field for economically diverse students and reduce excessive achievement pressure.” Other highly selective schools, including Wesleyan University, Smith College and Mount Holyoke College, have adopted test-optional policies in recent years.

FairTest’s website has a guide to adopting test-optional policies as well as popular lists of test-optional schools.

As a Brown alum and a longtime advocate for test-optional and other standardized testing reforms, I would be extremely proud to see my alma mater take this step. If not now, when?

Lisa Guisbond ’80

Note: The author is an analyst for FairTest, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing in Boston.