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St. Scholastica removes ACT, SAT requirement

Tower Hall on the campus of the College of St. Scholastica. (file / News Tribune)

The College of St. Scholastica no longer requires prospective students to submit ACT or SAT scores.

The school is the first four-year Twin Ports college or university to make the change for the standardized test scores.

"We want to provide students an opportunity, maybe some who have never considered us before," said Ellen Johnson, vice president for enrollment management at St. Scholastica. Dropping that requirement will probably mean acceptance of more students, she said.

"Students who don't have private tutors or money to retake the test will now have a better chance in their application. For some students those tests might still be a greater reflection of their knowledge, but for others it might not be," Johnson said.

The change will affect students applying for the 2019-20 school year. Standardized test scores will still be accepted as part of applications.

FairTest, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, shows more than 1,000 accredited, four-year colleges and universities are test-optional, meaning applicants have the option to submit their test score. The center promotes test-optional policies based on research that shows implicit bias in standardized testing, especially for underrepresented student groups in higher education.

Northland College in Ashland is another test-optional school. According to the college's website, test scores are still reviewed if they are submitted.

Johnson expects the new policy will increase student diversity.

"Diversity isn't just ethnic or racial background, but first generation students, students coming from rural communities, or even students with disabilities," she said.

The Benedictine scholarship, awarded to every student, uses a combination of ACT or SAT scores and high school GPA to calculate how much each student will receive. Students who do not submit their score will still be awarded the scholarship, but how they evaluate the amount will be through a process that considers a wider range of things. The policy reflects the college's commitment to access, said Colette Geary, St. Scholastica president.

Studies have shown, she said, that the best predictor of college success is a high school student's curriculum and GPA. The college's own data indicated the same, she said.

The change was made Oct. 11 by a vote of St. Scholastica's faculty assembly.