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Case Against the Use of Standardized Test Score for College Admissions

Susan Notes: Let's keep quoting this observation:
We are heavily reliant on standardized testing at all levels: K-12, college and graduate school. But what we have seen at Bates indicates that this may be a monumental trip up a blind alley for America.



MELISSA BLOCK, host: Before you can take cool classes, of course, you have to get into college, and most of the time that means taking the SATs but not if you're applying to Bates College in Maine. For 20 years, Bates has made it optional for applicants to submit SAT scores. College Vice President Bill Hiss was the architect of that testing policy, and he says that it's made the school stronger.

BILL HISS:

Twenty years ago Bates College hoped to find students who had proved themselves to everyone but the testing agencies. It has helped us find students like Leann Lei(ph). Leann, a Vietnamese refugee, dealt with the death of her father, learned English and graduated as her high school valedictorian. But her SAT verbal was 400, so low that most competitive colleges would have refused her, and I share that score with her permission. She applied to Bates as a non-submitter, earned her biology degree magna cum laude and received her medical degree this past June from Brown.

There are far, far more students like Leann Lei than anyone might have guessed. A third of our classes enroll with no testing. The difference in grade-point averages between submitters and non-submitters is 5/100ths of a GPA point. The difference in their graduation rates is 1/10th of 1 percent. Five-one hundredths of a GPA point and 1/10th of 1 percent in graduation rates? On this, most admission officers decide who can go to college?

Let me be blunt. We are heavily reliant on standardized testing at all levels: K-12, college and graduate school. But what we have seen at Bates indicates that this may be a monumental trip up a blind alley for America. Optional testing has profoundly changed Bates. We doubled our applicant pool. Yes, we're more diverse, come from more states and countries, from wider socioeconomic backgrounds. Our students also reshape their own career expectations. Recently, one of America's top 50 corporations came to campus, interviewed 27 of our seniors and offered positions to all 27, stark evidence that option testing can help a college create the productive citizens that America needs.

BLOCK: Bill Hiss is vice president for external affairs at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

(Soundbite of music)

MICHELE NORRIS (Host): This is NPR, National Public Radio.

— Bill Hiss
All Things Considered
2005-01-04


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