by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Jenna Robinson’s latest Martin Center column focuses on the value of standardized tests in higher education.
Making college admissions “test-optional” has been steadily gaining steam among elite and liberal arts American colleges. In late September, Colby College and Rosemont College joined the hundreds of other institutions that do not require their applicants to submit standardized test scores to be admitted to the school. Other schools that have “test-optional” policies include Bowdoin College, Bryn Mawr College, George Washington University, Sarah Lawrence College, the University of Chicago, and Wake Forest University.
And now, the University of California system has announced plans to study whether including standardized tests adds value to the admissions process. Many observers, including students, scholars, and at least one UC regent, have interpreted this move as a precursor to UC adopting test-optional policies in the future.
But a book released last year already offers a decisive answer to that question. Measuring Success: Testing, Grades, and the Future of College Admission, edited by Jack Buckley, Lynn Letukas, and Ben Wildavsky, presents essays from more than 20 scholars who study standardized testing. The book provides considerable evidence that standardized tests add significant value to the admissions process—most notably because it is the only transparent, objective measure available. By giving up standardized testing, colleges may be losing crucial information on whether prospective students can succeed in the college environment.