FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 13, 2020
As a result of COVID-19, the College Board and ACT Inc. have canceled all immediately upcoming administrations of the SAT and ACT standardized exams, which are required components of the majority of college applications. In response, thousands of students across the country led by Student Voice are calling for all colleges and universities to prioritize equity in the admissions process and adopt test-optional policies for freshmen entering in the class of 2021.
To support their #TestOptionalNOW campaign, Student Voice hosted a public press conference on Monday, April 13 with high school students and university representatives discussing the effects of test-optional admissions policies on college access. The conversation was moderated by Paul Laurence Dunbar High School junior Gabriella Staykova from Lexington, Kentucky, who called for “all colleges and universities to eliminate standardized testing requirements and adopt test-optional application policies for all applicants to their institution during the 2020-2021 admissions cycle”.
Chris Suggs, a third-year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the CEO of Kinston Teens from Kinston, North Carolina said, “I know first hand the challenges of being a full-time student trying to juggle extracurricular activities, volunteerism, and preparing for college while also trying to work part-time to support my household and supporting other family members. It is extremely taxing and tolling. Standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT don’t take these factors into consideration. It is evident in our test results. So this pandemic exacerbates the inequities that already face communities like mine. Many members of our families are more at risk of contracting COVID19 or are already battling it at disproportionate rates.”
Maodon Tohouri, a high school junior at Amador Valley High School from Pleasantville, California said, “As a junior whose class is starting the college admissions process, this announcement has heightened the anxiety of many of my peers and for those who have always been disenfranchised in this process, these announcements are worse. There are many students across the country who no longer have access to test prep … their school’s free test date … whose living situation has been changed and no longer have time to study for standardized tests. Those are the students that this test-optional campaign aims to help.”
Claudia Marroquin, the Director of Admissions at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine said, “what we have found at Bowdoin [is that] the test scores do not correlate to success on campus. The way that we evaluate our students, the way that our students behave in our classroom is not based on a single test.”
Marroquin also said, “A single high stakes test is not how we deliver education. Nor is it the best way of measuring how a student has learned and how they can convey their learning and their understanding.”
Marroquin also said, “When I think about the impact of scores in my day to day work and life, they have nothing to do with what I do now and how I define myself and the successes that I have and the failures that I have. They do not go and amount to a test score.”
Emanuelle Sippy, a high school junior at Henry Clay High School from Lexington, Kentucky said, “Going test-optional now demonstrates not only that schools care about [students] in a holistic way, but actually care about the fact that we are learning during this time, whether that means caring for our siblings or parents or grandparents, whether that means engaging in community work and helping others - there is so much happening during this time “one million juniors are missing out on testing this spring … many of those test dates are more accessible
Sippy also said, “There’s also another factor in terms of students with accomodations, 504s and Individual Learning Plans. For example, in Kentucky where I live … for students like myself with an accommodation, we did not take it on [the SAT test date offered in March] and so although a student like myself can register in September and pay for that test, there are so many factors that are hidden”
Andrew Palumbo, the Assistant VP for EM & Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts said, “We looked at: where do test scores have way too much influence in the process? We didn’t have to look too far to realize that we had a legacy scholarship program that used the national merit program. Talk about over emphasizing test score influence: 99% of students in the first pass are eliminated from eligibility on test score alone.”
Jamaal Muwwakkil, the 2020-21 student Regent of The Regents of the University of California system (the Universities of California, Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, UCLA, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz), speaking as an individual, said “Do students who do well on the SAT attain success once they go on to their undergraduate institution? The answer to that question will be telling. My understanding is that oftentimes, the standardized tests from an undergraduate frame correlate most closely to familial income, which is to say that the SAT can sometimes be seen as a proxy for means, which does have a discriminatory effect.”
For a full list of test-optional schools, those interested should reference the database that FairTest, the national leader in the test-optional movement, maintains on their website. Updated research, factsheets, daily news and more are also available through FairTest.
The full recording of the press conference is available online on Student Voice’s Facebook page. For additional inquiries about Student Voice’s student-led campaign to call colleges and universities to adopt test-optional admissions policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, contact Jenna Yuan, Student Voice’s Director of Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-260-8146.
Our COVID-19 Response: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Student Voice is committed to addressing the educational inequity exacerbated by this health crisis through rapid response advocacy campaigns and digital organizing. We will provide critical community space among social distancing, educate young people on the relationship between systemic injustice and the contemporary education system and help student organizers base build through coalition work for long-term, substantive action beyond this health crisis. Our COVID-19 response can be tracked at StuVoice.org/COVID-19.
About Student Voice
Student Voice is a by-students, for-students 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works in all 50 states to equip students as storytellers, organizers and institutional partners who advocate for student-driven solutions to educational inequity. Through direct civic action, Student Voice helps students hold their schools and surrounding communities accountable to the Student Bill of Rights and prepares them to become lifelong agents of social and political change. For more information about Student Voice, visit our website at StuVoice.org and follow @Stu_Voice and #StuVoice on social media.