Wednesday, August 14, 2013

An Experiment in Being "Test Flexible"

We've written before about the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, usually referred to as Fairtest. Fairtest's website includes lists of colleges that are SAT/ACT optional and can be a helpful resource for students who believe that their scores on these exams don't reflect their real abilities.

Brandeis University in Massachusetts, one of the schools on the Fairtest list, has taken an interesting approach to what they call being "test flexible". As described by the University, students applying to Brandeis can choose to submit a combination of scores in subject tests, or an academic portfolio that includes a sample of analytical writing and an additional teacher evaluation. However, even students who don't submit traditional SAT/ACT tests will be asked for these scores after they matriculate. After two years, the Brandeis Senate will decide, based upon the success of the text flexible admitted students, whether to change, expand, or eliminate this program.

Brandeis University, by Hannah Rosen

Andrew Flagel, who heads up student enrollment at the school, is quoted in a Brandeis newsletter as noting, “This is an evolutionary change, since we already strive to de-emphasize the role of standardized tests in our admissions decisions through the careful evaluation of high school program and grades, recommendation letters, interview reports, and other ‘non-cognitive’ factors.” He further noted that this research based approach to test flexible admissions allows the University to maintain its high academic standards while giving students control over how their application will be evaluated. 

We will be interested to see how this experiment in having students decide how to best "package" themselves for admission will turn out. 

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