Missing The Expected Impact

Career College Central summary:

  • Many in higher education believe that test-optional admissions policies –- when colleges and universities do not require applicants to submit standardized test scores — boost enrollment of low-income students and underrepresented minorities (African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans). A new study, however, challenges this conventional wisdom. An article published last week in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis argues that a college’s adoption of test-optional policies does not increase the proportion of low-income and African-American, Latino and Native American students who enroll. Instead, such policies benefit the institution.
  • The study examined 180 selective liberal arts colleges, 32 of which had adopted test-optional policies between 1992 and 2010. It compared colleges with test-optional policies against colleges that required test scores.
  • The report found that between 1992 and 2010, test-optional institutions did not see any more gains in low-income enrollment (measured by the proportion of Pell Grant recipients) than test-requiring institutions did. Nor did test-optional institutions see larger gains, on average, in the proportion of black, Latino and Native American students they enrolled.
  • Andrew Belasco, one of the study’s authors, said the findings surprised him and his colleagues.
  • “We went into the study thinking that we would absolutely find that some of these policies would make a difference in terms of bringing underrepresented students to campus,” Belasco said. “These policies, at the end of the day, do little to promote greater access.”

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