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A Year Like No Other: Test-Free at the UC

By Gary Clark

Editor’s note: In August 2020, NACAC released a report urging colleges and universities to examine their policies and practices concerning standardized tests and their potential impact on equity and access. This column is the fifth in a series of articles reflecting on the report’s recommendations and offering insight into the current state of standardized admission testing.

I’m not sure I ever thought I’d see that day at the University of California (UC) or  the University of California—Los Angeles (UCLA), but here we are. On the heels of an admission cycle that mirrored the uncertainty and turmoil of the world around us, I’m being intentional about taking time to reflect on the year and lessons learned.

While the conversations regarding the continued use of standardized testing in UC admission began long before COVID, its onset certainly impacted the decision around test-optional versus test-free. Challenges regarding access to exams and accommodations needed by students were primary in discussions among our staff and faculty and, ultimately, the courts in California settled any lingering uncertainty. Each of the nine UC campuses moved to a test-free admission process and will continue this approach through the fall 2024 admission cycle.

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The Demise of the SAT Subject Tests and Essay: An International Perspective

By: Anne Richardson and Chemeli Kipkorir

Editor’s note: In August 2020, NACAC released a report urging colleges and universities to examine their policies and practices concerning standardized tests and their potential impact on equity and access. This column is the fourth in a series of articles reflecting on the report’s recommendations and offering insight into the current state of standardized admission testing.

Outside the US, submitting a transcript of classroom achievement is seldom required when applying to universities, which makes testing all the more important in the admission process. While the demise of SAT Subject Tests was welcomed and applauded, international counselors encountered some anxiety and questions from students and parents alike about the potential need to take additional exams such as TOEFL, IELTS, and Advanced Placement tests, especially if applying to non-US universities. This was especially true in regions where students routinely work with agents, and where test prep is an aggressive and big business.

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Rejoicings, Complications, and a Few Grey Hairs: Test-Optional Outside the US

By: Anne Richardson and Chemeli Kipkorir

Editor’s note: In August 2020, NACAC released a report urging colleges and universities to examine their policies and practices concerning standardized tests and their potential impact on equity and access. This column is the third in a series of articles reflecting on the report’s recommendations and offering insight into the current state of standardized admission testing.

Much has been written about the sudden, COVID-propelled test-optional movement inside of the US, and the blessings and complications that this movement has wrought for students, counselors, and admission offices there. Outside of the US, this same move to test-optional—plus the end of SAT Subject Tests and the SAT essay—has provoked mixed reactions: celebrations for students who are US-bound, but also concerns about potentially narrower options for students studying in a US curriculum who wish to travel abroad for university.

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NACAC Podcast Network Brings Together the Best of the Best

NACAC is an association that is learning, changing, and growing at the same incredible pace as the field of college admission.

Over the past year, we’ve invested in new education content and technology platforms to help college counselors and admission professionals be successful. At the heart of our work is the belief that responding to our members’ needs and providing value is what will make the association and our profession strong.

With more than 25,000 members now relying on NACAC to optimize their practices, our ambitions around providing the best education and content have only gotten bigger. That’s why we’re excited to announce the launch of the NACAC Podcast Network, a new audio destination that is home to eight great shows representing a wide range of perspectives. Together, this collection covers the scope of college admission from the student, family, counselor, and college perspective.

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A Plea for Data: The Value of Informed Testing Decisions

By: Erick Hyde

Editor’s note: In August 2020, NACAC released a report urging colleges and universities to examine their policies and practices concerning standardized tests and their potential impact on equity and access. This column is the second in a series of articles reflecting on the report’s recommendations and offering insight into the current state of standardized admission testing.

At this time last year, “I don’t know” felt like a valid reply to the question of “to test or not to test” when guiding students through the college admission process. Granted, “I don’t know” left everyone feeling unfulfilled, but how could we “know” when each element of testing brought more questions than answers. Relying on some combination of experience, instinct, patience, and each other, we methodically felt our way through last year’s admission cycle and landed somewhere between survival and triumph. A year later, the world is thankfully in a different place, but both the testing question and the “I don’t know” reply remain.

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Unintended Consequences

By: Rafael Figueroa

Editor’s note: In August 2020, NACAC released a report urging colleges and universities to examine their policies and practices concerning standardized tests and their potential impact on equity and access. This column is the first in a series of articles reflecting on the report’s recommendations and offering insight into the current state of standardized admission testing.

The decision most colleges made to go test-optional last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic was the right one to get us through an unprecedented crisis. But such a fundamental shift in college admission left a great deal of uncertainty in the minds of students and counselors alike. As a test center, Albuquerque Academy, an independent day school in New Mexico, worked hard to offer the SAT and ACT as soon as we could safely do so.

But telling the story of how one remarkable and dedicated colleague was able to orchestrate our first testing date after the state shut down raises again the question voiced last year by the NACAC Task Force on Standardized Admission Testing for International and US Students in its report: What is the real cost of standardized testing, and who bears the burden?

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NACAC View: Bans on Critical Race Theory are Harmful to Students and Educators

By Crystal E. Newby and David A. Hawkins

To say race relations in the United States have been tumultuous over the last year is an understatement. Many Americans and individuals worldwide watched the horrific footage of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police in May 2020. And although one of his killers has since been convicted and jailed, we continue to watch the loved ones of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor fight for justice. It seems like every day there is an incident in the news where a Black student is forced to cut their hair to compete in a sporting event or to walk in their high school graduation ceremony. There have even been instances when white educators made derogatory remarks toward students of color when they thought no one was listening.

Just recently, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Nikole Hannah-Jones, was denied tenure at her alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for a role in which it’s traditionally granted. Many allege the decision was due to her extensive involvement in the 1619 Project—an initiative of The New York Times Magazine that analyzes how slavery shaped American political, social, and economic institutions. These events are just a small sample of what BIPOC individuals face daily, yet some state officials have proposed banning discussions of systemic racism in schools, particularly any context of critical race theory (CRT).

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Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Racism and College Admission

By: Lawrence Q. Alexander II

Nov. 1…For some, it’s just another day, but for those of us in college admission, it marks the anniversary of our “first date”—the day when Early Decision and Early Action applications have typically been due and that our work with seniors coalesces.

We recall preaching to them during the spring of their junior year about the importance of starting early and working on their college applications throughout the summer. We replay the melodious songs we sang to our faculty and colleagues about the impact of their letters of recommendation. We also experience pardonable pride as we lead our school community to a date on the calendar that at one time seemed so very far away. We think about the students and families we’ve counseled, the admission colleagues we’ve conversed with, and the floorboards we’ve confessed our frustrations to. And historically, we feel a range of emotions, from excitement to fear to anxiety to relief to sheer exhaustion.

Yet this year, with a global pandemic and the demand for racial equity and justice looming over our anniversary celebration, many of my colleagues and I experienced another emotion on Nov. 1—rage. And as COVID-19 and Racism 2020 tear through our world, they also pervade our profession, prompting a cascading list of uncomfortable yet unavoidable questions.

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Students Discuss Inclusion and Diversity in Higher Ed

iStock

By: Amber M. Briggs with Maria Guadalupe Romo-González and Will Walker

Author’s Note: The student perspectives shared below are representative of their unique experiences in higher education. We acknowledge there may be experiences that are missing from this conversation and encourage higher education leaders to continually seek out their own students’ perspectives and thoughtfully engage them in their decision-making process.

This summer, the Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA) had planned to bring a group of students to NACAC’s Guiding the Way to Inclusion conference to discuss their experiences in higher education and share their thoughts on what higher ed professionals can do to foster inclusion and diversity.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus crisis prompted NACAC to cancel the in-person event and instead move the conference online,

Although our panel was unable to participate in the virtual event, we know the topics of inclusion and diversity are more important than ever given the racial injustices and challenges of COVID-19 that students are facing. And with the help of two LEDA Scholars, we hope to begin that conversation on NACAC’s Admitted blog.

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