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Colorado lawmakers push to make SAT or ACT optional for college admissions

Posted at 7:51 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 21:59:17-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado lawmakers plan to introduce a bill that would make standardized tests optional for college admissions.

State Rep. Cathy Kipp and Sen. Tammy Story are behind House Bill 20-1407 that would allow students to forgo the SAT or ACT when applying to the state's public colleges. Students could still submit scores if they chose.

Jevon Jordan McKinney, a senior at Widefield High School, says he was excited to hear about the new legislation.

"I think it's a really good thing. Those tests not only inspire a lot of stress among students. There are some students who are educated and intelligent in the classroom but are just bad testers," said Jordan. "It's going to make a dramatic difference. These students are not going to worry about this one test that is defining everything they've done in the last three in a half years."

While he understands colleges use the scores to judge readiness among students, he believes the tests put low-income and students of color at a disadvantage.

"We don't know what was available to that student or if they had an advantage. Someone who could maybe afford a tutor to help them on the test and drastically increase their score compared to a person on a lower economic level who doesn't have access to a tutor. It is a systematic issue with standardized tests because the tests were initially created to keep low-income or minority students from achieving academic prominence," said McKinney.

He says the tests don't accurately determine a student's academic performance, and GPA should be the main focus.

"Even though it is a number on paper, GPA is more of an accurate representation of a student's overall ability across three or four years of high school," said McKinney.

Kipp and Story tell News 5 that research shows GPA is the best predictor of college success.

"What we've been hearing from high school and college counselors is that test scores are a bad way in determining if a student will be successful in college," said Kipp.

"It has not been found that are national standardized tests are a good predictor of persistence or success in college, but GPA is a much better predictor," said Story.

The proposed legislation would increase first-time, low-income, and other underrepresented college-goers at colleges and universities.

"This bill is allowing opportunities for students who might not have applied or been admitted due to the test score requirement. This is also providing an opportunity for universities to have more diversity on their campus which they are seeking," said Story. "Students of color, women, pell grant students, those who lack wealth are those among impacted the most with the requirement."

Those against the bill argue the SAT and ACT provide a standard measure for applicants.

"We aren't getting a ton of pushback, but we're getting some which is challenging. Some people are in the mentality of wanting objective measures, but not everything can be measured by objective measures. We added a ten-year reporting component to the bill so that we are reporting and collecting that data about how this bill is affecting college admissions completions over the course of ten years for students who do submit scores and don't," says Kipp.

McKinney says students who continue taking the tests should not their scores determine who they are.

"I would say to minority students and students of color, really focus on helping your community out, becoming more educated in the classroom, and becoming leaders not only in education but overall. Standardized tests don't determine your capabilities as a student, don't determine your capabilities as a leader, and definitely
don't determine your capabilities as a person," said McKinney.

State lawmakers have already made standardized tests optional for Colorado high school students graduating in 2021. If the bill is passed, Kipp says it would go into effect immediately and would make the tests optional for the other students.