ALLEGANY, NY (WKBW) — There is a growing trend at college and universities called ‘testing optional’. More than 1,000 campuses no longer require SAT and ACT for admittance.
St. Bonaventure University announced it will be dropping the scoring for its admissions process, joining four other colleges in Western New York, Niagara University, Daemen College, Hilbert College and Villa Maria College.
A campus building bell rang out on the St. Bonaventure campus in Allegany, N.Y. Monday. St. Bona’s new ‘no test’ policy will begin with this fall’s freshman class.
“We have noticed in the last year or two, there are more students deciding to apply only to test optional schools,” remarked Bernie Valento, vice president, enrollment.
Valento said the university has been losing good students to other campuses not requiring SATs and ACTs.
“There seems to be a trend recently where students apply test optionals first while they're waiting to take their SAT's to improve their test scores,” Valento stated.
‘Test optional' is a nationwide trend at about 40-percent of colleges and universities. Niagara University pulled the plug on testing in 2018. But another local college dropped the requirement years ago.
Villa Maria College, in Cheektowaga is one of four area schools that does not require the SAT’s or ACT’s for college admissions.
“We don't want to create more barriers to education. We want to try to find the right students to come here, who are going to be a right fit for our school,” explained Brian Emerson, vice president, enrollment, Villa.
Emerson said Villa still requires students to meet the standards of their high school grades to be admitted.
“The standardized doesn't tell you a full picture about the student. It tells you whether or not they're good at taking a test or how they did on that particular day when they sat down for the test,” Emerson noted.
Villa Maria sophomore, Kasey Malikowski of Williamsville, says not having to worry about ACT or SAT tests scores allowed her to build up her art portfolio for her college major in Integrated Arts.
“I took the ACT’s and SAT’s, but it it really destroyed me. I was so stressed out all the time,” recalled Malikowski. “Honestly when it comes like getting into a good college, I think college should be a lot more focused on the quality of a student rather than just a number on the paper that the test represent.”
St. Bona also points to an equity issue. Some students from higher income families are able to hire tutors and afford to pay for the cost of retaking the tests, but for lower-income students, some school districts don’t have resources to assist students.
“There’s real evidence that these students can come, be successful, graduate on time and have very successful careers, so all the research points to that,” Valento said.
The National Center for Fair and Open Testing says 'test optional' also removes equity gaps, so students are not accepted based on race or household incomes.
Dr. Dennis DePerro, St. Bonaventure University president, said he will sign the motion this week for the new policy.
But the university says "the standardized tests will still be required for some specific majors, and to be eligible for the university's top three scholarship levels, prospective students will still need to submit either an SAT or ACT score. Students not submitting test scores will be eligible for institutional grants and need-based aid."
Students applying to St. Bona's Franciscan Health Care Professions program, Higher Educational Opportunity Program or plan to compete in the college's Division I athletics would be required to submit test scores.
Some of the video in our story was provided by Roisin Coleman, student, Jandoli School of Communication, St. Bonaventure University.