A Hill Talk Editorial: College admissions abandon objectivity

During the course of the past decade, a disquieting swing has emerged to the point that an astounding one-third of colleges and universities no longer rely on either the American College Test (ACT) or the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores for admission to institutions of higher learning.  This pattern is likely to spur further conversation about contributions to student debt.

Although neither test claims to measure all factors tethered to potential student success, both examinations have sustained for years as a benchmark for college admissions.  The bent to junk the use of these critical test scores is granting many a peek at the murky world of college admissions.  In doing so, a mindless pursuit, colleges and universities are discarding a most vital indicator to quantify a student’s capacity to fulfill requirements to earn an undergraduate degree.

This inclination can serve only one purpose: To allow a greater number of students admission, many under-qualified, to colleges and universities so the shattering current of rising tuition fees continues unabated.

The decision to de-emphasize or eliminate the consideration of these standardized tests and relieve colleges and universities of an effective device to measure skill are driven largely by The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, fairtest.org, which has labored under the delusion such standardized tests are culturally biased.

Fair Test’s creed is to “place special emphasis on eliminating the racial, class, gender, and cultural barriers to equal opportunity posed by standardized tests, and preventing their damage to the quality of education.”  Fair Test and their increasingly desperate defenders who support them are infiltrating institutions of higher education and turning a necessary tool to determine student ability into a slapdash instrument to advance a political agenda.  Rich debate is being replaced by a stealth campaign of hysteria.

Although broadcast as a felicitous practice, the failure to use these test scores is entirely consistent with numerous other policy changes in colleges and universities today. Similarly, the watering down of curriculum and standards, online degrees, the development and advancement of sham disciplines, artificial grade inflation and the elimination of class rankings in high schools are parallel to this rejection of the ACT or SAT as an indicator for student success.

By distancing themselves from these two touchstones with this completely intellectually indefensible act, colleges and universities are abdicating their responsibilities to accept credentialed young adults. They are ennobling or besmirched their reputations by inflicting harm to their brand and standing as an elite institution.

They risk undermining the entire education system; and they produce the very evil education hopes mitigate or cure, the improvement of the general condition of society through the means of education by which men and women are helped in both body and mind.

Masquerading as an innovative policy, colleges and universities which have embraced this custom have forsaken the last vestige of prestige and promise they once owned because this warped or deluded strategy both eclipses the desire to remain an elite institution and cleverly distances schools from the ulterior motive of raising tuition by accepting a higher number of applicants through less-rigorous application screening.

By eschewing the ACT or SAT scores and relying heavily on ancillary verification such as grade point averages (GPA) and class rankings, most of which is highly questionable due to human influence, applicants boasting unblemished academic records will not be properly vetted through the parallel drawn to such captivating GPAs through the SAT or ACT parallel. 

This lack of consistency points directly to the pitiable compulsion of grade inflation.

Knowing nothing of students’ habits, ACT and SAT scores are an indispensable criterion to distinguish intellectual ability from the deception of badly manipulated grade point average and its impact on class rankings.  For example:  If a student achieves a 4.7 GPA on a 4.0 scale, but scores a 24 on the ACT, one could arrive at the conclusion the student performs brilliantly in the classroom, but is wracked with anxiety over meeting a uniform examination.

While Advanced Placement (AP) courses are weighted to account for elevated coursework, simple logic is not in play here:  Students frequently invoke the oft-repeated refrain of “poor test-taking skills” to adjudge the dramatic disparity between GPAs and class ranking when compared to ACT scores.

This is a familiar dodge:  It demands the question of precisely how a student mastered classroom curriculum to attain academic eminence, but the same test-taking dexterity which equipped their rise to the position of honor abandoned them when they undertake the ACT or SAT and earn disappointing scores.

Precis:  Schools which assume this method of rejecting ACT and SAT scores for admission habits are sacrificing more than the schools’ prestige; they are bowing to the hypnotic influence of alleged social-conscience organizations; they are delivering college graduates into the battle of madness known as the job market while vying to escape the weight of college debt; and they are reducing education to a mere stand-in for academia.

By removing the preeminent standard for admissions, administrations at colleges and universities have been reduced to mere gluttonous masters, seeking tuition increases instead of retaining impeccable reputations, embodying the promise of the future and creating the next generation of leaders.

Instead of remaining on the forefront and providing vision, insight and leadership, our universities have welcomed a master plan which will court disaster and is unworthy of an educated man.


[fairtest.org] [Photo courtesy msl.law.wfy.edu]


  1. Pete Johnson

    These moves to de-emphasize standardized testing fits the ongoing campaign to make Secondary Education a compulsory debt racket.

    First, degrade even a quality HS education to the status of nothing because the disparities between different school, regions and cultural strata.

    Second, take a look at a jobs site: even the most simplistic/basic job listings require a 4 year degree. I have recently seen entry-level SALES jobs demand 4-year degree or don’t bother applying.

    This is the new structural discrimination in our country.

Comments are closed.