A new, first-of-its kind study obtained exclusively by NPR News raises big questions about the predictive value of standardized testing in college admissions. Today during Morning Edition, NPR education correspondent Eric Westervelt reveals the report's main conclusions about the determining correlations between high school performance and success in higher education, and also speaks with the principal author. Westervelt's piece is also now available online at NPR.org.
The three-year study, "Defining Promise: Optional Standardized Testing Policies in American College and University Admissions," examined data from more than 123,000 student records at four-year colleges and universities that don't require SAT or ACT scores for admission. It found virtually no difference in these "test optional" schools in student grades and graduation rates when comparing students who submitted test scores and those who did not. Those who did not submit scores had cumulative grade rates – five one-hundredths of a GPA point lower – than those who did, and graduation rates six-tenths of one percent less. "Defining Promise" also demonstrated high school grades, not testing, to be the most predictive of both groups' success in these colleges.
The study's principal author, William Hiss, tells Westervelt, "My hope is that this study will be a first step in examining what happens when you admit tens of thousands of students without looking at their SAT scores. And the answer is: if they have good high school grades, they are almost certainly going to be fine."
NPR is dramatically expanding its coverage of education, developing a multidisciplinary team to produce distinctive, in-depth coverage of the topic. This team will drive the national dialogue on education through explanatory reporting and rich, impactful storytelling around key issues, such as common core, higher education, online learning and the arts in education. Three new positions – a lead blogger, senior editor and associate producer – will join Westervelt, education correspondent Claudio Sanchez and editor Steve Drummond. Expanded coverage will begin this spring.