Hampshire College Sees Progress in Ditching SAT, ACT

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

Hampshire College has released results for its second year of choosing to no longer accept SAT and ACT scores, which show progress being made in terms of the alignment of admissions with the overall mission of the college.

The College decided to no longer accept the test scores in June of 2014 after the results of an internal study of the most successful students at the school found that SAT and ACT scores did not predict future student success.  In addition, the school noted the bias these tests carry toward low-income students, as well as the negative influence that standardized testing has on education.

Dean of Enrollment Meredith Twombly announced the second year of results earlier in the week.  According to Twombly, the incoming class was found to be more racially diverse, with more students representing the first generation of their family to attend college than any year prior to the policy going into effect.  Retention of first-year students was found to be higher than it was pre-policy, with 81% staying compared to 78% two years ago.  Lastly, the percentage of students who accepted admission to the college was higher than it was before the policy change.

The decision to not accept SAT or ACT scores disqualifies the college from the US News annual college rankings. This is because the publisher does not have a process for measuring institutions of higher education that does not include standardized test scores.

Twombly discussed the exclusion from the rankings, saying that the measures are not based on producing successful alumni.  Instead, she says they measure a college’s ability to attract high-scoring students that maintain high GPAs, which she believes is partially influenced by the wealth of the schools.

“Standardized test scores have all the value of a broken clock, plus they are biased and cause widespread anxiety for students,” Twombly wrote recently in the essay “College Admissions Moneyball.” “Many remarkable students whose test scores and GPA fall among the lower 90–95 percent of their class are being shortchanged in the arms race that is college admissions.”

National Science Foundation data released earlier in the year shows Hampshire College continuing to rank within the top 1.4% of colleges in the United States, which is measured by the number of graduates who go on to earn the highest degree in their chosen field.  In addition, the school is ranked in the top 10 of the Forbes list of the most entrepreneurial colleges based on LinkedIn data of alumna who run their own businesses or are self-employed.

The school also stated 89% of their alumni report obtaining employment within one year of graduation, with two-thirds of alumni earning advanced degrees within ten years of graduation.

At the same time, the school has predicted a decrease in enrollment due to becoming more selective in an effort to admit students who are a better fit for the school.  In addition, the school estimates a short-term budget deficit for the same reason.

“We entered into this with our eyes wide open and we’re very willing to ride out a couple of bumpy years as we get a better handle on yield and retention projections,” Twombly said. “We’re thrilled with the outcomes of the policy thus far, and will stay the course.”