Colorado universities and colleges would have the flexibility not to consider ACT and SAT tests as part of student admissions requirements next year under a bill being considered by state lawmakers.
The measure, introduced on Saturday and approved in the House, would grant public higher education institutions flexibility after the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the schooling of students nationwide, causing district closures and moves to remote learning.
The bill’s sponsor Rep. Cathy Kipp, a Fort Collins Democrat, said the proposal was negotiated as a one-year halt and the bill would only allow Colorado schools to not factor in test scores for students who graduate in 2021.
The change would benefit students who just completed their junior year and did not get to take the SAT, which was cancelled in the spring. The Colorado Department of Education may offer those students the SAT for free in the fall, but much uncertainty remains about what school will look like in the fall.
Kipp said she would have liked to see test requirements removed more broadly — a remark that underscores the national debate about the merit of using standardized tests for college acceptance.
Nationwide, many colleges and universities have eliminated ACT and SAT requirements. In Colorado, schools such as the University of Denver and Colorado College have dropped test requirements for admissions.
In May, the University of California system decided to phase out its use of the SAT and ACT, a move that was partly brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, but also brought about by questions about the fairness of the tests to poor, Hispanic and black students.
At least one recent study suggests a move away from the two tests might help more students with good grades but low test scores earn college degrees.
The research, by a University of California Berkeley graduate student, found students with a higher GPA but lower results on national tests were more successful at more selective schools than their peers at less-selective schools.
The research suggests that colleges replacing test scores with a greater emphasis on high school GPA or class rank could draw in more diverse students.
Meanwhile representatives of the testing companies have defended the tests, saying the ACT and SAT are strong indicators of whether a student will be successful in college.
Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.
Jason Gonzales covers higher education for Chalkbeat Colorado, in partnership with Open Campus.