by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Dartmouth College will restore its SAT requirement for admissions beginning with the Class of 2029, making it the first Ivy League university to reinstate the testing requirement after doing away with it after Covid.
In an email to the university community, Dartmouth president Sian Beilock wrote that the decision to reimplement the standardized test was made in response to a faculty study which found that “standardized test scores are an important predictor of a student’s success in Dartmouth’s curriculum” regardless of a “student’s background or family income.”
Professors involved in the review included Elizabeth Cascio, Bruce Sacerdote, and Douglas Staiger of the economics department and Michele Tine of the sociology department, Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Lee Coffin told the Dartmouth.
Performance on such tests is an important barometer of student academic caliber, the faculty said. With Dartmouth recruiting more international students, as well as students from lesser-known high schools, test scores provide more data on academic prowess.
“We’re getting more and more applications from all around the world, and so in order to find high achieving students, test scores turn out to be a really helpful tool,” Sacerdote said. “Our analysis shows that we potentially miss out on some great applicants when we don’t have [test scores].”
Test scores are always assessed in the context of the student’s high-school profile regarding demographics, college attendance rate, and test performance, Sacerdote said, which socioeconomic considerations are somewhat built into.
The professors noticed there were certain cases in which applicants opted not to send their scores when the scores could have “helped that student tremendously, maybe tripling their chance of admissions,” Sacerdote said. …
… Rather than handicap underprivileged students, the test requirement can help shine a spotlight on achievers from poor areas and give them a chance to succeed.