February 24, 2014

 Report Finds Virtually No Difference in Graduation Rates for Students Who Submit or Do Not Submit Standardized Test Scores to Colleges and Universities

​There is no significant difference in the success rates of students who submit their standardized test scores to colleges and those who don't, according to "Defining Promise: Optional Standardized Testing Policies in American College and University Admissions," released last week by Principal Investigator William C. Hiss. In the study of colleges with "test optional admission policies," there were no significant differences in either cumulative GPA or graduation rates between submitters and non-submitters.

"With almost 123,000 students at 33 widely differing institutions, the differences between submitters and non-submitters are five one-hundredths of a GPA point, and six-tenths of one percent in graduation rates. By any standard, these are trivial differences," the report said.

The report also found that non-submitters are more likely to be first-generation-to-college enrollees, minority students, women, Pell Grant recipients, and students with Learning Differences (LD). But across institutional types, white students also use optional testing policies at rates within low single digits of the averages, so the policies have broad appeal across ethnic groups.

"For economic growth and social stability, America will need to find successful paths to higher education for hundreds of thousands of additional first-generation-to-college, minority, immigrant, rural, and LD students," the report said. "This study provides the research support for optional testing as at least one route by which that can happen," it concluded.

The report, a comprehensive effort to assess student outcomes in test-optional admission settings, is a project in keeping with the recommendations of NACAC's Commission on the Use of Standardized Admission Tests in Undergraduate Admission.