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Regents offer alternative to college entrance exams

The Iowa Board of Regents representing the state’s three public universities recently made the decision to no longer require college entrance exams for first-year students as part of their admissions process – a measure that waives exams and highlights a failure of these requirements to reveal solid predictors of student academic success.

Moreover, the decision to offer students a test-alternative, provides more flexibility by admissions counselors to rely upon other performance indicators when selecting their entering class of new students applying to the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.

In recent years, eliminating standardized testing is part of a larger national trend among colleges to seek alternative admissions practices for its students.

During the earlier stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board temporarily waived testing requirements. Students applying to the Regents universities can still submit test scores as part of their application package despite the waiver, although student grades and other nonquanitifiable factors will be utilized in admitting students to each entering class, according to IowaRegents.edu.

Additionally, according to Iowacapitaldispatch.com, the decision for a test-alternative was also based on the discovery that some rural student applicants as well as those that have lower incomes lack access to test preparation centers and materials necessary to score well on such standardized tests.

According to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) a national nonprofit organization that promotes open and fair evaluation of students, standardized testing often creates barriers for some test takers among class and cultural lines. As a result, FairTest seeks to promote equality and end bias the organization believes interferes with student success and outcome. A recent report from FairTest indicates that nearly 80 percent of four-year institutions are making test scores optional beginning in the fall of 2022.

As of last month, the proposed measure was sent to the Iowa Administrative Rules Review Committee.

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