Skidmore Very Likely to go Test Optional
In the last 25 years, this is around the fourth time that Skidmore has evaluated their admissions requirement that applicants must submit standardized testing, but this year’s result is different than before. Skidmore is likely to be going test optional effective with applicants for Skidmore’s class of 2021.
The Skidmore Enrollment Management Group chaired by Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Mary Lou Bates, has recommended that Skidmore adopt a test optional policy. The official recommendation is that“we adopt a test optional policy beginning with the current juniors, the next class that we enroll. The class of 2021,” said Bates. Skidmore is still going to require test scores from international students, unless they have been in an English speaking school for at least three years. The recommendation is also that Skidmore require test scores for students who go to schools that have written evaluations instead of grades, and for those applying for the Porter Presidential Scholarships in Science and Mathematics.
The Enrollment Management Group did a complete review and“concluded that there is no significant predictive value of standardized resting for student achievement and retention” reads an email president, Phillip Glotzbach, sent to the Skidmore community.
“At the end of the evaluation we have felt that we have not over emphasized standardized test scores in admissions. We are far more interested in a students record, the courses they have taken, the grades they have received [and], the trend of their grades within the high school that they attend. So, we have thought since we are not over emphasizing why not have them, but I think we feel the time has come now [to make them optional]” said Bates.
Going test-optional is also in line with Skidmore’s commitment to access as expressed in the new Strategic Plan. “The use of standardized testing in the college admissions process continues to privilege some populations of students over others” reads the Skidmore College Enrollment Management Group Report on Standardized Testing
Skidmore is not alone in adopting a test-optional policy. “Over 850 four-year institutions to date including 46% of selective and highly selective liberal arts colleges” are currently test optional reads the Skidmore College Enrollment Management Group Report on Standardized Testing. Two of the first schools to go test optional were Bowdoin College, which went test optional in 1963, and Bates College, which went test optional in 1984. More and more schools have since also gone test-optional.
One of the more recent schools to go test optional was Trinity College, which made this switch this past October. Trinity’s “goal in joining the test-optional movement is to expand educational access and to bring academically strong students to the admissions committee who may have never considered a Trinity College education,” said Angel Pérez ‘98, Vice President of Enrollment and Student Success, in a letter to school counselors announcing their decision to go test optional.
There are some perceived advantages to going test optional. “We believe that adopting a test-optional policy would significantly decrease the advantage gained by students who can afford to improve their scores through additional test preparation, and thereby level the playing field for prospective students across the socioeconomic spectrum” reads the email from Glotzbach. Under the new policy, applicants will still have the option to submit scores and Bates predicts that the average test score is going to go up.
Many schools that have gone test-optional previously have seen additional benefits. For example, according to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), a national organization that has been helping to lead the national effort against the use of standardized test, “many report their applicant pools and enrolled classes have become more diverse without any loss in academic quality.”
There are a few remaining steps that must be taken before the policy to go test-optional becomes official. The Committee on Educational Policy and Planning (CEPP) has reviewed it and supports it. On March 4th, it was also presented to the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC), and they had no edits to the draft proposal. The official report has now been finalized and sent out to the entire Skidmore community, including students, faculty and staff, and they had the opportunity to provide feedback on it on Wednesday, March 23rd. “Based on all of that it will come back to IPPC on Friday April 1st. That’s when they vote to support it,” said Bates.
Assuming the test-optional recommendation is adopted, the enrollment management group will be assessing the test optional policy annually and seeing its impact on enrollment, achievement and retention. The Office of Admissions will monitor the success of the policy yearly and at the end of three admission cycles provide a full report CEPP.