Colorado’s public colleges don’t have to require SAT, ACT scores anymore

Dive Brief:

  • Colorado’s public colleges no longer have to require that applicants submit SAT and ACT scores for admission under a new law Gov. Jared Polis signed Tuesday. 

  • Colleges can decide whether they want to require the scores, however. The bill also instructs the state’s higher education department to compile a report on institutions’ test-optional policies.

  • Many schools nationwide flipped to test-optional admissions temporarily during the pandemic.

Dive Insight:

Many colleges adopted test-flexible policies last year after the pandemic shuttered K-12 schools and other common testing sites, meaning students had trouble finding places to take the exams. Some institutions have extended test-optional admissions into and beyond fall 2022, while others may revert. The University System of Georgia announced it would ask for the scores starting with students applying to start in spring 2022.

Generally, admissions requirements are not left to states but rather to individual institutions, systems or their governing boards. Colorado is one exception.

The bill Polis signed Tuesday allows colleges to decide whether they want to require test scores. It also directs the state’s higher education department to create an annual report for the legislature starting in June 2023. 

This document will include such data points as which institutions did not require the scores and the share of first-time, first-year students at each school who didn’t submit them.

“Across the country, what we’re finding at institutions of higher education is that it’s better to have a holistic approach to admissions, not just based on a test score,” Polis said during the livestreamed bill signing event Tuesday. “We need to make sure that admissions practices are equitable, that we find the students that are the most promising.”

All of Colorado’s four-year public colleges supported the measure, The Denver Post reported previously.

A similar piece of legislation that would move all of Illinois’ public colleges test-optional for prospective undergraduates has passed both chambers of the state’s legislature. 

And public four-year colleges in Washington state recently made their test-optional pilot permanent.

Some 1,400 four-year colleges won’t require SAT and ACT scores for at least some applicants entering in fall 2022, according to a list maintained by FairTest, a group advocating for more equitable uses of standardized assessments. The count encompasses institutions that were test-optional prior to the health crisis.

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