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?
School year 2021-22 will be a watershed return to the classroom for all school communities. For a sense of context, think back to your own college application journey. Compare that to what high school students will experience this fall.
In spring of 1985, I’d failed the on-the-road driver’s license test for the second time and was homebound. Madonna and Tears for Fears played in a loop on MTV, and my older sister terrorized and hazed me at every opportunity. I was a junior in high school who needed to interview a family member for an assignment about potential careers.
I opened the door to my father’s den. “Dad, I need to interview a family member for homework.” “Ok,” he said sitting at his desk. “What career do you think would be good for me?” I asked. He thought about it and resolutely said, “Shopping. Something with shopping.” I winced. As a bookish A and B student with a small circle of artsy, awkward friends my dad’s response confirmed he was clueless. “Why do you say that?” I followed up. Encircled by bookshelves and work-league baseball and bowling trophies, my dad smiled and responded: “You’re good at it.”
NACAC joined several education organizations this week in calling for changes to the way college rankings are calculated by one of the nation’s largest publishers of such information.
The effort was organized by New America — a think tank based in Washington, DC — which published an open letter to the editors of US News & World Report asking them to end the practice of including the average SAT and ACT scores of incoming students in their Best Colleges calculations.
“Using average scores of incoming students to rank an institution has never made sense, but is even more preposterous during a deadly pandemic,” notes the letter. “…At the same time, a rise in test-blind and test-optional admissions policies has made it difficult to compare institutions using this metric.”
A new national campaign is underway to increase federal financial aid for low- and moderate-income students.
The aim of #DoublePell is simple. Supporters want to double the maximum Pell Grant, a move that would allow a student’s annual award to top out at $13,000.
A new website, doublepell.org, offers more information about the proposal and includes a customizable letter that students, families, and others can send to their members of Congress to communicate support for the increase.