Student management

UA official says ACT not a predictor of student success

FAYETTEVILLE — Maintaining testing-optional undergraduate admissions at the University of Arkansas is justified by data on the percentage of students who re-enroll after their freshman year, the university’s top admissions official said Wednesday. AU to faculty officials.

“ACT is not a good predictor. High school GPA is a much better predictor,” said Suzanne McCray, UA’s vice provost for enrollment management and dean of admissions, referring to the statement by name. most common college entrance exam in Arkansas.

For UA students with the same 3.2 to 3.3 GPA in high school, data shows higher one-year retention rates for students without a minimum ACT score of 20 compared to students with a score ACT in the 20-23 range, according to information presented by McCray at a meeting of the UA faculty senate.

“I used to believe in scores. But I don’t anymore,” McCray said. She also called the ACT test “prejudicial” and presented national data showing that students from less affluent families score lower on average on the test.

For the past two years, UA temporarily dropped its minimum ACT score requirement for admission, McCray said. It started when the emergence of the covid-19 pandemic made testing difficult.

Faculty senators are expected to vote May 4 on a change to the state’s student admissions policy that would make college entrance exam testing optional for applicants with at least a GPA. 3.2 in high school.

“Between a 3.0 and a 3.2, we will ask for grades,” McCray said, later clarifying that applicants would be required to submit grades to be considered for admission. Testing would be required, as is currently the case, for course placement and to meet certain state requirements.

Current policy now states that Arkansas students with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a base ACT score of 20 meet the university’s admission requirements. However, optional test admissions will continue for the Fall 2022 application cycle.

AU’s undergraduate admissions policy for out-of-state students would remain unchanged, indicating that students from out of Arkansas may be required to meet higher standards, depending demand.

Mark Rushing, a spokesman for the AU, said if the professors voted for the policy change, it would still need the approval of the AU provost, chancellor and board. The change would be for the 2023-24 academic year, Rushing said.

McCray said several other universities, including the University of Oklahoma and the University of Kansas, have moved to optional testing admissions.

“We’re not the only ones on our campus discovering that testing doesn’t matter,” McCray said.

At the meeting, some faculty members spoke in favor of the policy change.

“I’m really happy to see this,” said English teacher Chris Goering.

McCray said while there is not yet data on graduation rates for students who enrolled without having the previously required minimum ACT score of 20, there would be ongoing study of student outcomes. .

Speaking of wanting a policy change, she added, “We wanted to have a scholarship program so we could give a scholarship to valedictorians, to every school in the state. We can’t do that. do because we can’t admit all the valedictorians. There’s something really wrong with that.”