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ACT/SAT Test Scores Optional for Admission During Five-Year Test

Students applying for admission to Baldwin Wallace University for the 2009-10 academic year will have the option of whether or not to include standardized test results as part of their portfolio.

In adopting a “test optional” policy for admission, BW joins an impressive list of leading colleges and universities nationwide—including more than a quarter of the top 100 liberal arts institutions as ranked by U.S. News & World Report—who no longer will require standardized test scores for admission.

“This action really gives prospective students the opportunity to choose those materials that best showcase their individual strengths and preparation for college work,” said BW President Richard Durst. “For some students, this may be accomplished by illustrating the rigor of their high school programs, class rank, letters of recommendation, community involvements and leadership in extracurricular activities. Others may choose to present this information plus standardized test scores.”

Building the Strongest Possible Community of Learners
The decision is part of a five-year test. Baldwin Wallace already attracts more than 3,500 applications each year to build an incoming class of about 725 students. School officials believe that the new policy is consistent with BW’s focus on students as individuals. It also supports two BW enrollment goals: to further expand its pool of students with outstanding academic preparation and to recruit and retain well-qualified students who bring diverse experiences and backgrounds to enrich the BW learning community.

This move also responds to broad-based concern in and outside of higher education that standardized test results are not accurate indicators of student success in college and actually have a negative gender, cultural and socioeconomic bias.

For instance, males typically score 39 points higher on standardized tests than females, but females have higher high school and college grade point averages.

“We know that many students from disadvantaged backgrounds self-select themselves out of the admission process because they believe that their test scores are not competitive with those reported in the profile of the first-year class,” said Susan Dileno, vice president for enrollment management. “By making reports of standardized test results optional, we can cast a broader net for prospective students.

“Among schools who have eliminated standardized testing requirements or made it an optional part for admission during the past two years, there is significant evidence that being test optional produced little or no difference in the first-year performance of those students who submit scores and those who do not.”

Decision Results Will Be Closely Watched
Last summer, the College Board conducted a study of first-year BW students who entered during Fall 2006. For BW, the addition of test scores to other selection criteria, such as grade average, strength of program, strength of high school, recommendations, etc., produced “modest predictive value” of first-year success in the classroom.

Based on the experiences of other test optional colleges and universities, BW officials anticipate that approximately 20 per cent of incoming students may exercise this new option.

During the five-year pilot period, Baldwin Wallace will require all students to submit standardized test results at the time of enrollment. While not used in admission decisions--if the student so chooses--the information can continue to be used for English and mathematics placement and will provide data for future research and assessment.

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