The Future of the Successful Generation: Does it Still Lie in Test Scores?

by Rasheedah Na’Allah

With data to back up their decisions, many
universities are no longer admitting students
based on standardized testing scores.

You may have noticed that many universities
have made the decision to go “test-optional”
for the graduating classes of ‘21 and ‘22.
Some assume that COVID-19 has been the
outlying factor behind these decisions, when
in actuality, COVID has been the shield
distracting from other issues long affecting the
testing systems. Data shows that standardized
testing has high amounts of racial and classist
bias, holding students of color and poverty
back from reaching their highest potentials.

Studies indicate that standardized
college entrance tests are not good indicators
of student intelligence or college performance
due to variables in family income and racial
disparities. COVID added to these issues
causing large gaps in student learning at
all levels. A New York Times article notes,
“According to the College Board, which
administers the SAT, 55 percent of AsianAmerican test-takers and 45 percent of white
test-takers scored a 1200 or higher on the SAT
in 2019. For Hispanic and Black students, those
numbers were 12 percent and 9 percent.” Gaps
like these correlate to the inaccessibility of
private coaching, test prep, and test center
availability within residential areas.

So, why are colleges ditching test
requirements? Many colleges realize
the difficulty placed on students during
the pandemic and vow to look at college
applications with a more holistic approach.
The former president of Princeton University
and student advocate William Bowen states
in a report that “high school grades may
have a more incremental predictive power of
college grades and graduation rates.” Not only
will this increase more applications from a
diverse pool of applicants, but it will also give
students a chance to let other aspects of their
applications shine through, such as essays and
recommendation letters. The Los Angeles Times
also reports that “Among 1,807 UC Riverside
students with GPAs of 3.75 or higher and SAT
scores above 900 — the 32nd percentile —
outcomes were not so different between those
with higher and lower-end SAT test scores. [For
example,] The six-year graduation rate for those
with SAT scores between 900 and 1090 was 81%
compared with 83% for those with SAT
scores between 1100 and 1600, the highest
score possible.” A test score may not
communicate the hard work students do
to reach these successes.

Although standardized test-taking may
never be completely eliminated in college
admissions, there are many things students,
parents, and teachers can do to ensure each
student has an equal chance of getting into
college and accelerate once there. There are
many positive effects a mentorship can have
on a disadvantaged student. Exploring these
resources can help level the playing field
for students and parents who feel behind in
college preparations. If professionals take
it upon themselves to aid and mentor the
disadvantaged, a positive effect can be had on
the student’s motivation and passion which
benefits the student whether inside or outside
of the testing room. Taking these initiatives
will make a stark difference in any student’s
life and increase the chances of success and
professionalism in our generation.

About Rasheedah Na’Allah

Rasheedah Na’Allah is a senior at Dunlap High School in Peoria, Illinois. She is the youngest of her 3 siblings and enjoys the benefits of being the “baby of the house.” Her Nigerian and Muslim upbringing has led her to be resilient and outspoken in her beliefs. Rasheedah is a dedicated student who is a part of the National Honors Society and loves to be active in her community. She planned a diversity assembly at her school in front of the entire student body, formed an extensive research project on racial disparities and inequities in the education system, and has been appointed into the Peoria County Board’s Racial Justice and Equity Commission. She has also served as Dunlap’s representative to engage and network with young state leaders attending the 2020 Illinois Senator Youth Leadership Council. Rasheedah is the founder of her school’s Muslim Student Association, leads in foreign language club, and is a strong member of the color guard team. Outside of school, she enjoys volunteering and regularly posts on her cooking page through social media. She started her own book club and enjoys reading and discussing books by BIPOC authors. She hopes to pursue Business, Health, and Wellness during her college years and is extremely honored to write for the Giving Voice Initiative.

About Adrien Vozenilek

Adrien Vozenilek is a freshman at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. They are currently double majoring in Psychology and Art. Adrien’s art is focused on their family and Italian heritage. They hope to work as an art therapist for LGBTQIA+ youth. You can find their Instagram at @a_vozenilek.