The colleges will tell you they are ditching ACT and SAT tests because the tests discriminate against racial minorities and the socio-economically disadvantaged (poor people). But I think this explanation is mere blather. The colleges are dropping standardized tests in the admissions processes for two reasons that they dare not articulate.
First, most of the elite colleges are engaging in race discrimination in making their admissions decisions. Harvard, for example, has been accused of discriminating against Asian applicants based on an analysis of enrollment criteria. Asians lost their discrimination claim against Harvard, but they are appealing in a case that is likely going to the U.S. Supreme Court.
It is much harder for disappointed college applicants to claim they were discriminated against based on race when the objective criteria of SAT and ACT scores are jettisoned. College admission officers will argue that standardized test scores interfere with the goal of achieving diversity, which is just a disingenuous way of saying their admissions decisions are subjective and often based on race.
Regarding the less selective schools, many are ditching the ACT and SAT exams because they are so desperate for students that they've lowered their admission standards and don't want anyone to know it. By tossing out standardized test scores, it becomes harder to document the fact that many colleges will now admit anyone who has a pulse and some student-loan money. In fact, the pulse may be optional.
A great many of the 1,000 colleges and universities that have gone test-optional for student applicants are obscure institutions that are probably struggling to keep their enrollments up. For example, Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. only has about 1,000 students and is facing several financial problems. The Chair of the Earlham Board of Trustees released a letter to the campus community in 2018, which acknowledged that the college had been "running substantial operating deficits" since 2008 and that its present level of cash flow was not sustainable.
I don't have inside information about enrollment challenges at the 1,000 colleges and universities that scrapped the ACT and SAT, but I feel sure that many of them are scrambling to survive and that the chief motivation for most of them is to juice their enrollments and not to enhance "diversity."
|Photo credit: Kayana Szymczak, New York Times