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St. Bonaventure to adopt test-optional policy for standardized tests

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — St. Bonaventure University will no longer require that students take the SAT or ACT standardized test to be eligible for admission, joining more than 1,000 institutions across the nation.
 
The university’s Faculty Senate approved the motion, presented by the Faculty Senate’s Enrollment and Marketing Committee, on Friday afternoon.
 
Dr. Dennis DePerro, university president, said he will sign the motion this week. The new policy will first impact students applying for the fall 2021 freshman class.
 
“To be honest, we were a little late to the party. We now have evidence that we’ve been losing good students to other schools simply because they chose not to apply to Bonaventure because so many other schools were test optional,” said Bernie Valento, vice president for enrollment.
 
However, university officials don’t expect a massive influx of new applications. The hope is to increase applications by 5 to 10%, Valento said.
 
The reason university officials don’t expect a major spike in applications is because 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. 
 
In addition, applicants to the university’s Franciscan Health Care Professions program and Higher Educational Opportunity Program would be required to submit test scores, as would any applicant planning to compete in Division I athletics; test scores must submitted to the NCAA Clearinghouse for certification of eligibility.

“What this does is help us to identify students who had excellent high school careers but who either didn’t take a standardized test because there are so many test-optional schools available to them now, or who took the test and performed poorly,” Valento said. “There has been increasing evidence over the years that the SAT and ACT have inherent biases that might eliminate otherwise good students from considering a college career.”
 
Bob Schaeffer, public education director for the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, said significant gaps exist between test takers based on race, parental education and household incomes. 
 
“The SAT remains a more accurate measure of a test taker’s family background than of an applicant’s capacity to do college level work,” Schaeffer said. “No wonder why close to 50% of four-year colleges and universities in the country are now test optional.”
 
Almost 400 top-tier institutions across the country have adopted some form of test-optional admission policy, including many in New York state.
 
SAT scores more accurately predict the ZIP code in which a student resides than any other variable, Fair Test research determined. Affluent students have access to the educational and economic resources necessary to positively impact performance on standardized tests such as the SAT.
 
“The bottom line is, we’ve been losing good students to many of our institutional peers for a few years now,” said Dr. Dennis DePerro, university president. “Given the competitive landscape of higher education, especially in the Northeast, we simply can’t afford to do that anymore.”

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