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The Test Optional Decision Why, What, and How
I Really Do Know What You’re Thinking
To increase test score averages/USNWR Rankings To become more selective To admit academically weak students To attract a more diverse population of students To gain public attention and affection To make friends with conservatives in the media who think the world is going to Hell in a handbasket The “Why We DIDN’T Do This” List
DePaul is a bit more complex than a freshman ACT average Over the last four years: Average of 2,450 students Average ACT score of 24.72 Eliminating the bottom 500 students each year from ACT calculation takes us to….. 25.4 We increase average scores more than that just by Super-Scoring (we don’t) USNWR adjusts for Test-optional schools Average ACT counts for a very small (< 10%) part of rankings We will report test scores for all students who took a test (anticipated 98% +) in our averages The Test Scores?
We are very happy admitting 62% of applicants We prefer admission committees over rejection committees All those applicants are real We have purposely avoided Fast Apps, Snap Apps, VIP Apps, Express Apps, etc. in the past, all of which are faster and cheaper ways to increase the perception of selectivity By any measure, the entering class of 2011 is our best in history Selectivity?
DePaul has always used GPA more than ACT to admit students It’s anticipated that students admitted without test scores will have higher average GPA’s than those with test scores The “odd ones out” are likely to be applicants with high test scores, but lower GPA’s. Admitting Weak Students?
Of institutions with higher academic profiles than DePaul, only a few are more ethnically diverse  Of institutions more diverse, few share the profile of DePaul Our diversity is a function of who we are as an institution, not a function of artificial processes When adding socio-economic diversity, DePaul is distinctive, sharing the spotlight with less than 20 similar institutions More Diversity?
Among Universities of DePaul’s Academic Profile, Few are as Diverse
Our announcement was purposely given only to the Chronicle to ensure it played out professionally first Hardly mentioned in Tribune, Sun Times, Inside Higher Ed, etc. until seven months later To Gain More Public Attention and Affection?
To Make Friends Among Conservatives? No
Test Optional Why We DID Do It
We have known for a LONG time that the single best predictor of college GPA is HS GPA YES, even from one HS to the next No study has ever refuted this ACT and SAT DO predict college GPA…but covariance with HS GPA tends to eliminate incremental value ACT and SAT are not intelligence tests Other factors have been shown to predict academic success ** better than ACT or SAT Only Academic Success predicts graduation In All Seriousness… * Combination of 2.5 GPA and48 quarter credits earned in first year
NOT: Will I get a 2.0? …But Will I Graduate? Note: Student performance measured after three quarters of enrollment; DePaul is on quarter system, and 16 credits per term is standard
“When asked about SAT scores, admissions representatives usually explain the importance of standardized scores, but never present them as the sole decider. They refer to their university's brochure where almost everyone shows the middle 50 percent of incoming freshmen SAT scores as a general benchmark. However, as potential applicants we have developed a habit of selective hearing. The logical messages that are conveyed by admissions officers often get distorted or dismissed by students' rumors and opinions that are much better circulated than the admissions presentation. The result is that junior year becomes a frenzied obsession about how, and how much, to improve your standardized test scores and GPA.” At some level, we all get that colleges understand the problems involved with quantifying a student's ability based on numbers. Many very talented students don't earn scores and grades that represent their strengths for any number of reasons. Some of them simply don't test well. There are essays and interviews, of course, where these students hope to stand out. Some colleges really encourage applicants to show who they are through some pretty creative measures, but many students just don't make the effort if they think their numbers are too low to be taken seriously.  We need to know what questions we should be asking, instead of focusing almost exclusively on the statistics listed in the brochure. The mania inspired by standardized testing seems to subside when representatives talk about college life instead of the admissions process. The Student Angle
The History of Success Angle Note: No two test-optional policy, or policy eliminating tests for some students is identical
The Fairness and Access Angle
Joseph Soares, Wake Forest University: Testing agencies admit scores correlate with income Best way to attract wealthy students is to require standardized tests California Study: 100 points on SAT accounts for .02 point in GPA in college Best case regression: 70% of freshman GPA not explained by academic variables Limits of Standardized Tests http://www.nacacnet.org/PublicationsResources/Research/Documents/InstitutionalResearchonStandardizedTesting.pdf
Four-year Pilot Program starting with Freshman Applicants to Fall 2012 Students decide which approach is best for them; no changes once they commit If we have scores from candidates who don’t want us to use them, we will eliminate them from the review process If we get them on the transcript, we’ll ignore them How This Will All Work
Candidates who do not submit scores will be asked to complete four essay questions as a special on-line supplement (Read: Beyond the Big Test by William Sedlacek) Review process will be separate for submitters and non-submitters Scholarships and Honors Program will still be available based on review of file We will ask for scores of all enrolling students in the fall for research and reporting purposes only How This Will All Work, cont’d.
We will work with Faculty to review the Pilot Program results yearly We anticipate full implementation by 2016 However, we reserve the right to change or revert prior to the start of any application cycle We’re happy to answer questions at any time How This Will All Work, cont’d.
http://bit.ly/dputest Read All About It Counselors: http://bit.ly/dpuoptional Students: http://bit.ly/readthisplease Everyone:

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DePaul University Test Optional Decision

  • 1. The Test Optional Decision Why, What, and How
  • 2. I Really Do Know What You’re Thinking
  • 3. To increase test score averages/USNWR Rankings To become more selective To admit academically weak students To attract a more diverse population of students To gain public attention and affection To make friends with conservatives in the media who think the world is going to Hell in a handbasket The “Why We DIDN’T Do This” List
  • 4. DePaul is a bit more complex than a freshman ACT average Over the last four years: Average of 2,450 students Average ACT score of 24.72 Eliminating the bottom 500 students each year from ACT calculation takes us to….. 25.4 We increase average scores more than that just by Super-Scoring (we don’t) USNWR adjusts for Test-optional schools Average ACT counts for a very small (< 10%) part of rankings We will report test scores for all students who took a test (anticipated 98% +) in our averages The Test Scores?
  • 5. We are very happy admitting 62% of applicants We prefer admission committees over rejection committees All those applicants are real We have purposely avoided Fast Apps, Snap Apps, VIP Apps, Express Apps, etc. in the past, all of which are faster and cheaper ways to increase the perception of selectivity By any measure, the entering class of 2011 is our best in history Selectivity?
  • 6. DePaul has always used GPA more than ACT to admit students It’s anticipated that students admitted without test scores will have higher average GPA’s than those with test scores The “odd ones out” are likely to be applicants with high test scores, but lower GPA’s. Admitting Weak Students?
  • 7. Of institutions with higher academic profiles than DePaul, only a few are more ethnically diverse Of institutions more diverse, few share the profile of DePaul Our diversity is a function of who we are as an institution, not a function of artificial processes When adding socio-economic diversity, DePaul is distinctive, sharing the spotlight with less than 20 similar institutions More Diversity?
  • 8. Among Universities of DePaul’s Academic Profile, Few are as Diverse
  • 9. Our announcement was purposely given only to the Chronicle to ensure it played out professionally first Hardly mentioned in Tribune, Sun Times, Inside Higher Ed, etc. until seven months later To Gain More Public Attention and Affection?
  • 10. To Make Friends Among Conservatives? No
  • 11. Test Optional Why We DID Do It
  • 12. We have known for a LONG time that the single best predictor of college GPA is HS GPA YES, even from one HS to the next No study has ever refuted this ACT and SAT DO predict college GPA…but covariance with HS GPA tends to eliminate incremental value ACT and SAT are not intelligence tests Other factors have been shown to predict academic success ** better than ACT or SAT Only Academic Success predicts graduation In All Seriousness… * Combination of 2.5 GPA and48 quarter credits earned in first year
  • 13. NOT: Will I get a 2.0? …But Will I Graduate? Note: Student performance measured after three quarters of enrollment; DePaul is on quarter system, and 16 credits per term is standard
  • 14. “When asked about SAT scores, admissions representatives usually explain the importance of standardized scores, but never present them as the sole decider. They refer to their university's brochure where almost everyone shows the middle 50 percent of incoming freshmen SAT scores as a general benchmark. However, as potential applicants we have developed a habit of selective hearing. The logical messages that are conveyed by admissions officers often get distorted or dismissed by students' rumors and opinions that are much better circulated than the admissions presentation. The result is that junior year becomes a frenzied obsession about how, and how much, to improve your standardized test scores and GPA.” At some level, we all get that colleges understand the problems involved with quantifying a student's ability based on numbers. Many very talented students don't earn scores and grades that represent their strengths for any number of reasons. Some of them simply don't test well. There are essays and interviews, of course, where these students hope to stand out. Some colleges really encourage applicants to show who they are through some pretty creative measures, but many students just don't make the effort if they think their numbers are too low to be taken seriously.  We need to know what questions we should be asking, instead of focusing almost exclusively on the statistics listed in the brochure. The mania inspired by standardized testing seems to subside when representatives talk about college life instead of the admissions process. The Student Angle
  • 15. The History of Success Angle Note: No two test-optional policy, or policy eliminating tests for some students is identical
  • 16. The Fairness and Access Angle
  • 17. Joseph Soares, Wake Forest University: Testing agencies admit scores correlate with income Best way to attract wealthy students is to require standardized tests California Study: 100 points on SAT accounts for .02 point in GPA in college Best case regression: 70% of freshman GPA not explained by academic variables Limits of Standardized Tests http://www.nacacnet.org/PublicationsResources/Research/Documents/InstitutionalResearchonStandardizedTesting.pdf
  • 18. Four-year Pilot Program starting with Freshman Applicants to Fall 2012 Students decide which approach is best for them; no changes once they commit If we have scores from candidates who don’t want us to use them, we will eliminate them from the review process If we get them on the transcript, we’ll ignore them How This Will All Work
  • 19. Candidates who do not submit scores will be asked to complete four essay questions as a special on-line supplement (Read: Beyond the Big Test by William Sedlacek) Review process will be separate for submitters and non-submitters Scholarships and Honors Program will still be available based on review of file We will ask for scores of all enrolling students in the fall for research and reporting purposes only How This Will All Work, cont’d.
  • 20. We will work with Faculty to review the Pilot Program results yearly We anticipate full implementation by 2016 However, we reserve the right to change or revert prior to the start of any application cycle We’re happy to answer questions at any time How This Will All Work, cont’d.
  • 21. http://bit.ly/dputest Read All About It Counselors: http://bit.ly/dpuoptional Students: http://bit.ly/readthisplease Everyone: