School News: Rethinking Standardized Tests as Part of the Admission Process

Fall 2020

Can a three-hour test truly predict a student’s performance? According to data released by the College Board, standardized test scores say more about socioeconomic status, including parents’ level of education, quality of available schooling, and access to enrichment activities. More than 1,000 colleges and universities, as of late 2019, have dropped standardized test requirements.
 
Looking at admission through an equity lens, St. George’s School (RI) wanted to find out if this was the case in secondary schools. During the 2017–2018 and 2018–2019 admission seasons, the school did not consider scores from standardized tests that are widely used by independent schools as part of the admission process.
 
The experiment followed the pool of 24 students who met all the school’s admission criteria except for standardized testing. Without test scores, admission officers put more weight on students’ academic records and teacher recommendations. Ninety-eight percent of students in the study positively contributed to school life through classroom discussion and community activities. They earned solid grades and effort marks as demonstrated in report cards and teacher comments.
 
As a result of this experiment, the school board of trustees decided not to require standardized test scores for admission, effective for the 2020–2021 school year. The goal is to have a more equitable evaluation of students.
 
“We have concluded that a single test score does not correlate to success in our community,” says Head of School Alixe Callen. “This important policy change will allow St. George’s to attract even more highly qualified, diverse, and talented students.”


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