University of Delaware

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Faculty Senate approves pilot program on making test scores optional in admissions

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5:55 p.m., Feb. 8, 2016--The University of Delaware Faculty Senate today approved implementation of a four-year pilot program in which Delaware students will be able to choose whether or not to submit their SAT or ACT test scores for first-year admission to the University. The decision will go into effect with the class to be considered for fall 2017 (current high school juniors).

“This is a big step forward for the University of Delaware and for all outstanding Delaware high school students who want access to a high quality education at UD,” said Nancy Targett, acting president of the University. “The University’s future is predicated on our commitment to equity and inclusion. We value diverse backgrounds and learning experiences, and this program aligns with that commitment.” 

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According to the Admissions Guidelines Committee recommendation submitted to the Faculty Senate, the decision followed a thorough analysis of national research findings as well as UD-specific data. 

The committee found that for Delaware residents enrolled at UD’s Newark campus, the high school GPA and/or class-ranking percentile were very effective at predicting college success — as strong as the prediction when SAT or ACT scores were added. It also reasoned that reliance on SAT scores may discourage less affluent students and those from historically underrepresented groups from applying to UD, and that removing the requirement could help boost racial and socioeconomic diversity on campus — an important goal for UD.

“There are likely many outstanding Delaware students, students who challenged themselves, worked hard and performed well in their high schools, who are not applying to UD because they assume their scores on the SAT or ACT will disqualify them from admission,” said Doug Zander, director of admissions at UD. “We know that these students can be successful in college and we want them to apply.”

“I often hear students say, ‘I'll never get in with my test scores,’ and I hear in that statement not only their fear of being rejected by a college, but also the sentiment that their academic worth has just declined — even after years of hard work and commitment — due to their standardized test scores,” said Kim Denhardt, school counselor at Delcastle Technical High School. “This is a win-win for all students: those who test well and those who are able to rely on the strength of their GPA.”

The University of Delaware joins a growing list of about 850 U.S. colleges and universities — including close to 200 schools designated “top tier” by U.S. News and World Report — that no longer require applicants to submit results from the SAT or ACT, as reported by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest).

“We fully support the state’s efforts to prepare our residents for college,” said Chris Lucier, vice president of enrollment management at UD. “Students should use the SAT, PSAT and NMSQT as valuable resources for accessing AP courses, scholarships, and college application fee waivers. We urge all Delaware students to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the College Board and Khan Academy to take SAT prep classes free of charge.” 

Lucier added that applicants should submit their SAT or ACT scores if they feel it is a good representation of their readiness to attend and graduate from the University of Delaware but that all applicants will be given equal consideration for admission. The University will also continue to consider individual grades in core academic courses, performance on the essay, letters of recommendation and extracurricular activities, in addition to the applicant’s cumulative GPA. Over the coming months, UD Admissions will work with faculty in each of the seven colleges to consider other input variables that, as part of the holistic review process, may help determine whether the applicant is prepared for his or her intended major. 

“Any student who challenges themselves academically and excels in high school, regardless of their performance on a single standardized test, can have a place here at the University of Delaware,” said Louis Rossi, professor and chair of UD’s Department of Mathematical Sciences and member of the committee. “These students earned it through four years of effort building a strong high school transcript. They belong here. They deserve a high quality university education.” 

Although Delaware students will not be required to submit standardized test scores to be admitted, they will need to submit the scores after acceptance, in order to enroll. The information will be used as part of the pilot data, allowing the University to look at student performance in specific majors, retention rates, and general academics, collectively helping determine the most accurate predictor of success at UD. 

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