Standardized testing is no longer a requirement for University of Wisconsin college admissions, at least for the next two years.
The initial policy was enacted after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when students had a difficult time scheduling standardized tests appointments due to limited availability, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
According to Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jill Underly in the meeting, the pandemic changed education norms such as ACT testing.
“As far as the COVID pandemic and the accessibility of this test to a lot of kids, I think that the temporary extension is warranted,” Underly said.
Other universities, like the University of California, are moving away from standardized tests as well, according to the Times of San Diego. Recently, UCSD decided not to require any testing to be admitted as an undergraduate student.
Critics of the ACT and SAT argue that it gives an unfair advantage to wealthier students who can afford test preparation, according to the Times of San Diego.
Families with an income below $20,000 had the lowest SAT scores, while families with incomes over $200,000 had the highest scores, according to a 2015 Forbes analysis.
Lawsuits against the University of California also highlight standardized testing’s racial bias, according to Forbes. In 2018, the combined SAT scores for Asian and white students averaged over 1100, while other racial groups averaged below 1000.
Underly, however, noted the repercussions of this decision, including concerns about scholarships.
“A lot of schools and private donors use the ACT for scholarships,” Underly said. “I think we’ll really have to consider other ways to set kids apart.”
Without standardized tests as a requirement, more work falls into the hands of the admission officers, according to the Times of San Diego. Non-test criteria become more important, which requires a more comprehensive review process.
Anticipating this issue, the UW System’s Office of Academic and Student Affairs in conducting research on whether a different evaluation could replace standardized testing in evaluating academic readiness, according to the UW System.
The study will identify how accurately ACT and SAT scores determine UW students’ success, long-term consequences of getting rid of SAT and ACT requirements or making them optional. The study will also examine national trends among other universities. Preliminary findings and recommendations will become available by April 1, 2022.