Does Mandatory Testing Improve College-Going Rates?

March 31, 2014

A new study by College Board researchers and published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis finds that Maine saw an increase in college-going rates after requiring all high school students to take the SAT.  Statewide, the requirement was linked in the study to a 2-3 percentage point increase in the college-going rate of those graduating from Maine high schools. Of those who based on various patters otherwise were found unlikely to have taken the SAT, about 10 percent who would not have gone to four-year institutions did so.

ACT has reported similar findings in Colorado and Illinois, following statewide use of the ACT.

Robert Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, a critic of the College Board, said via email that even if the results of the Maine experiment are positive, that doesn't mean that the test is a good thing. "An unanswered question is how much of the apparent increase in college going (a good thing) is attributable to taking the test and how much results from the process of thinking about higher education, signing up for the exam (especially filling out the Student Descriptive Questionnaire which provides tons of academic and demographics data admissions offices use for recruitment), getting mail from schools, etc.," he said.


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