Awilda Rodriguez on why test-optional admissions policies fall short of their promise

July 14, 2022

In an opinion piece for The Hechinger Report, Rodriguez outlines the reasons why a test-optional approach isn’t necessarily a game changer for more equitable college admissions.

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In response to the pandemic, many selective colleges and universities across the nation temporarily dropped testing requirements for admission.

“But despite its promises, test-optional admission has not been the game changer for racial and class-based equity that many hoped it would be. And, as colleges and universities prepare for a new academic year, the hourglass on test-optional admissions policies is running out,” writes Awilda Rodriguez in an opinion piece for The Hechinger Report.

In response to new test-optional policies, many selective institutions saw a sharp increase in applications, however the shift made the pool of applicants that much more competitive. This, coupled with revenue sensitivities, and the fact that students from privileged backgrounds are more likely to choose to submit test scores, are all factors that have made the seemingly progressive approach produce little change in those who are ultimately admitted, write Rodriguez and her co-author, Sayil Camacho. 

“Changes at the margins of admissions will not translate to substantive or permanent transformation in the representation and embrace of racially excluded students in selective colleges and universities — one of the most contested and exclusionary spaces in America,” write Rodriguez and Camacho. “Instead, we need fundamental change in how colleges think about merit, deservedness and admission processes if we are to see real change. Everything else simply won’t measure up.”

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Associate Professor, School of Education