Why? Some colleges have waived the tests because of the coronavirus pandemic. Taking those tests during the COVID-19 outbreak is a health risk, they say, and an additional burden on college-goers during an already stressful time.
Now the NACAC wants colleges to waive those tests for the 2021-22 admission cycle. According to this organization, requiring such tests makes colleges "appear to send the signal that college admission exams take priority over students' health . . . " The NACAC also maintains that some high schools now prohibit colleges that require applicants to take a standardized test "from engaging with their students through school channels." Really?
The NACAC goes on to make a couple of arguments against standardized test scores, which I view as nearly hysterical:
Should public institutions maintain that these test requirements, US Department of Education data suggest that they stand to lose tens of thousands of students (and correlated tuition)--both from within and outside the state--to institutions not requiring the tests.In other words, NACAC claims that a college that requires standardized tests will lose students to institutions that don't, which will cost them tuition revenue.
Moreover, the NACAC hints darkly, a college that requires applicants to take the SAT or the ACT could get sued for a civil rights violation!
They also risk [says NACAC] creating a disparate impact due to prohibitive costs of sitting for an exam, particularly among low-income and minority communities, which could expose state institutions, systems, and administration to civil rights actions.Implicit in that statement is a warning that a college that requires applicants to take the ACT could be accused of racism.
Personally, I think the NACAC is sputtering pure bullshit. In my opinion, the reason hundreds of colleges have tossed out their standardized admissions test has nothing to do with students' health or their civil rights.
Colleges all over the country are in a jungle battle for students, as the demand for higher education ebbs. Schools must reach their enrollment targets to survive because they are dependent on tuition money--which means they are dependent on federal student loans.
By throwing out the ACT and the SAT, colleges make it easier for them to admit unqualified students. Hey--these colleges are saying--just show up, fill out your financial aid application, and you are good to go. No need to take a stressful standardized test--a test that might document just how unprepared for college you really are.
But this trend, which is snowballing, is eroding the integrity of higher education. As admission standards fall, more and more colleges are admitting students who are not capable of passing their courses under traditional academic standards.
But the colleges need the tuition revenue, so weak students are not washed out. Instead, grading standards are lowered so that almost no student fails a course or even makes a D.
This trend is bad for nearly everyone. Many students who were not prepared for college-level study eventually get degrees, which deceives them into thinking they accomplished something.
Students who are qualified to be enrolled--as evidenced by high scores on the ACT or SAT--get a watered-down educational experience as they sit in dumbed-down courses.
And jettisoning academic standards undermines the morale of faculty members--especially those who believe that students who come to college should have a basic grasp of grammar and diction. I myself have taught graduate students who had 18 years of formal education and still didn't know where to put a quotation mark.
But trash-canning the SAT and ACT is a good thing for colleges that have virtually become open-enrollment institutions(or at least nonselective institutions) but don't want anyone to know it. It is so much easier just to admit nearly everyone who applies because even an unqualified student can get a federal student loan to pay tuition.
Already, we see the wreckage produced by a higher education industry that lowered academic standards to keep their enrollments up. Hundreds of thousands of people who were not prepared for college and incapable of completing a rigorous degree program are finding that their college experience did not equip them to get a job. Yet, they are saddled with student loans they will never repay and can't discharge in bankruptcy.