Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Class of 2022 Benefits from Test-Optional Policy

KAYLEN JACKSON ’21

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Trinity’s test-optional policy, enacted by Angel B. Perez, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success in 2015, has resulted in a more diverse and committed student body. Mr. Perez arrived at Trinity College in June 2015 and the test-optional policy was implemented that October, under his direction. Mr. Perez cited the advantages of this policy as Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Pitzer College, which went test-optional in 2003.

The goal of developing a test-optional policy was to attain and retain the best students and improve the academic quality of the student body. Mr. Perez sat down with the Tripod and described how he hoped, through the revision of the policy, to expand educational access, diversity, and to bring academically strong students to the admissions committee who may have never considered a Trinity College education attainable.

Perez said, “My job is to predict if you will be a successful student at the college and research has shown no statistical difference in grade point averages between the students who submitted exams and those who didn’t—proving standardized test doesn’t prove collegiate academic success.”

With an increasing emphasis on equality in education, Mr. Perez stressed that “data from the College Board shows that the higher your family’s income, the higher your SAT scores will be.” In the New England Journal of Higher Education, Mr. Perez also noted that “most low-income high schools can’t afford to offer expensive test-preparation courses to their students, and while free or low-cost online options are available, the services offered to students who pay for preparation courses are unparalleled.” The inhibition presented by disparities in access to preparation methods makes the “one-size-fits-all approach” to testing an inadequate determinant of “whether a student is ready to succeed in college,” Mr. Perez continued. 

Mr. Perez discerned that when the college decided to go test-optional, the application pool was probably going to change, but would likely do so in a positive way. Before the test-optional policy, test scores were a substantial reason to reject a student. However, now the admissions staff spend significantly more time thoroughly examining the applications to ascertain if the applicant is prepared for college and will bring meaning to the community.

Since the admissions process has been redefined, Mr. Perez has noticed that “more justice” is done to a student with an increasing emphasis placed on “personal qualities that will lead them to succeed in college.” This renewed focus includes examining “curiosity, love of learning, perseverance, and grit” in addition to the standard “grades, rigor, curriculum, and other qualitative data.”

The current class of 2021 has unprecedented academic quality and geographic, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity and Mr. Perez added that it “includes the highest number of first-generation students from underrepresented backgrounds in Trinity’s history.” 

Mr. Perez cites the implementation of the test-optional policy as a contributing factor to the promotion of equal educational opportunity and found that students who are engaged, creative, open-minded, and involved continue to apply.

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