Racial Parity In Higher Education Is Far, Far Away

University Of Maryland Goes Test-Optional

The University System of Maryland will no longer require SAT or ACT scores for admission.

Last month, Maryland’s board of regents voted to allow its 12 universities to remove the requirement of SAT or ACT scores for admission. The final vote, however, allows individual campuses to have the autonomy to set their own admissions standards, The Washington Post reports.

“It was not our choice necessarily to go test-optional, but for the last two years, we have dealt with accepting many, many students across our system who did not have SAT or ACT scores,” Joann Boughman, senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs for the university system, tells The Washington Post. Boughman says other factors, such as GPA, are better than standardized test scores at predicting college success.


University of Maryland College Park President Darryll J. Pines has stated that standardized testing has a long history of being disproportionate in accessibility to minority communities.

“Persons of color tend to have biases against them by these tests and they don’t get into schools,” Pines says.

Research has shown that standardized testing perpetuates racial inequality.

“African-Americans, especially males, are disproportionately placed or misplaced in special education, frequently based on test results,” according to the National Education Association. “In effect, the use of high-stakes testing perpetuates racial inequality through the emotional and psychological power of the tests over the test takers. And although most test makers screen test items for obvious bias, their efforts often do not detect underlying bias in the test’s form or content. These biases have long-ranging and damaging consequences not only for students, their families but also the economic well-being of their communities.”

That’s part of the reason why the University of Maryland system has decided to go test-optional. But some officials say the problem isn’t necessarily standardized testing itself, but the access to test prep resources.

“Particularly for students of color, we have to find ways … of helping them to have the skills they need to succeed on standardized tests, though, because when you think about medical school or law school or the CPA or the nursing exam or the teacher’s exam, all of these are standardized tests,” Freeman A. Hrabowski III, the longtime president of UMBC, says.

Sources: The Washington Post, National Education Association

Next Page: Tulane admits most of class through early decision.

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