US19/20-13: SAT/ACT Optional Undergraduate Admissions Criteria

Date of Notice: March 18, 2020
Current Status: Approved April 8, 2020
Motion Type: Legislation
Sponsor: Bill Harbaugh, Economics


Section I

1.1 WHEREAS a university task force comprised of faculty and administrators met during February 2020 to consider the use of standardized tests for admissions to the University of Oregon; and

1.2 WHEREAS the task force considered how to accomplish the goals of: increasing diversity, increasing the pool of qualified applicants, growing enrollment, and addressing equity in admissions; and

1.3 WHEREAS test-optional policies are currently in place at 13 institutions in Oregon and are being considered by numerous others around the country with those same goals; and

1.4 WHEREAS while standardized test scores such as the SAT and ACT have been a common metric in undergraduate admissions for many years, a growing body of research raises questions about their efficacy in equitably measuring college readiness; and

1.5 WHEREAS research has shown that SAT and ACT scores vary not just by academic ability, but also by confounding variables such as family income, parental education level, and race/ethnicity (Allensworth & Clark, 2020; Higdem et al., 2016); and

1.6 WHEREAS since the University of Oregon’s current admissions practices do not involve a fixed SAT/ACT cutoff, but instead involve review of a broad mix of academic factors (e.g., grade trends, rigor of courses, local context of school and its average GPA) as well as non-academic factors such as overcoming adversity, community participation, and racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity, and the ability to contribute to university life in other ways, the impact of going test-optional is unlikely to decrease the average academic ability of UO undergraduates; and

1.7 WHEREAS because of the coronavirus shutdowns many students are currently unable to take SAT/ACT tests or complete prep courses for them and UO needs to take rapid action to ensure we remain an option for all students seeking higher education.

Section II

2.1 THEREFORE BE IT MOVED that the University Senate approves the Task Force Report: Recommendation regarding use of standardized test scores in admissions to the University of Oregon and its recommendation that UO move to a test-optional admissions policy, for students applying for Fall 2021 admission, in which most applicants can ask to be considered for admission and scholarships without submitting test scores, and that students have the ability to reverse this decision after submitting their application; and

2.2 BE IT FURTHER MOVED that the Senate authorizes the Provost to accelerate the timing of this change, if needed to respond to the developing coronavirus situation; and

2.3. BE IT FURTHER MOVED that some students may still be required to submit scores including those applicants whose high school curriculum includes study at an unaccredited school or homeschooled students, NCAA-recruited athletes, and other students who, on a case-by-case basis are determined to need to submit scores as additional evidence of college readiness.

2.4 BE IT FURTHER MOVED that the Office of Admissions shall deliver a report to the Senate in Fall of each year with data on the academic preparedness of the incoming undergraduate and their other relevant characteristics.


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