A World Without SATs

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Last year, Hampshire College became the first institution of higher learning in the country to categorically reject using SATs as an admissions requirement.

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The college’s president, Jonathan Last, waxed rhapsodic about the results of the policy change in a statement which appeared on Diane Ravitch’s blog:

  • “Our yield, the percentage of students who accepted our invitation to enroll, rose in a single year from 18% to 26%, an amazing turnaround;
  • “The quantity of applications went down but the quality went up, likely because we made it harder to apply, asking for more essays; Our applicants collectively were more motivated, mature, disciplined and consistent in their high school years than past applicants;
  • “Class diversity increased to 31% students of color, the most diverse in our history, up from 21% two years ago;” and
  • “The percentage of students who are the first-generation from their family to attend college rose from 10% to 18% in this year’s class.”

Last is justifiably proud of having reached out to underserved people as a result of this reform. Nevertheless, in his catalogue of what the transition has wrought, he fails to mention academic achievement.

The omission is notable. With college graduation rates of about 60 percent, youth unemployment at rates twice the national average and crushing student debt burdens, what will SAT-free college admissions do to reverse those trends?