Do college and university admissions offices place too much emphasis on SAT and ACT scores as predictors of academic success? A new study first reported on Tuesday by National Public Radio suggests the answer might be yes.
The study, led by two former admissions officers at Bates College in Maine, examined records for 123,000 students at 33 colleges and universities that make test scores optional for applicants. They found "few significant differences" in grades and graduation rates when they compared students who submitted test scores to those who didn't.
"Nonsubmitters" had GPAs only 0.05 of a point below the "submitters," and their graduation rates were only 0.6 percent lower.
William Hiss, the lead investigator on the study, told NPR: "My hope is that this study will be a first step in examining what happens when you admit tens of thousands of students without looking at their SAT scores. And the answer is, if they have good high school grades, they're almost certainly going to be fine."
NPR also quoted testing company officials, one of whom argued that test scores help "ensure that grade inflation is held at bay."
The story notes that some 800 four-year colleges and universities in America make SAT or ACT submissions optional, and that until this study, no one had thoroughly studied how students going to those "test-optional" schools are faring compared with students who submit their scores.