Alaska Pacific University (APU) has joined a small but growing number of schools that no longer consider standardized SAT and ACT test scores when determining undergraduate admissions or merit-based scholarships. The school announced earlier this month that it is the first university in Alaska to make this change.
In explaining the change, APU leadership used some of the key talking points made popular by critical race theory activists that claim nearly all U.S. cultural institutions are fundamentally racist at their core. This aspersion is especially levied against those entities, such as schools, which reward applicants based on merit and past achievement.
Like some other schools across the nation, APU’s decision is based on a belief that standardized tests are irredeemably tainted by systemic racism and biased against minority students and those who are low income.
It’s not clear, however, that APU’s decision to dump admission tests is based on any actual problem with regard to racial or ethnic diversity at the school.
“Years of research has shown that standardized testing is biased against Black, Latina/Latino/Latinx, Native, and some Asian students,” said Director of Admissions Toni Riley. “Likewise, wealthier students who can afford test prep courses and retests are rewarded with greater scholarships.”
Riley claimed that even the location of testing sites is “tied to privilege and access.”
“By removing test scores from our undergraduate admissions process, we’re eliminating a bias and a burden that hinders many potential students, while cutting ties with a testing industry that continues to perpetuate systemic racism,” Riley added.
It’s not clear, however, that APU’s decision to dump admission tests is based on any actual problem with regard to racial or ethnic diversity at the school. According to CollegeFactual.com, which ranks diversity in schools across the country, APU is considered “extremely racially/ethnically diverse.” For example, white students comprise only 54% of APU’s 529 students, while 65% of Alaskans overall identify as white.
In moving away from objective tests to a more subjective admission approach, APU says it will take a “more holistic and meaningful approach to each applicant by prioritizing their experiences and goals in place of test scores.” The new policy also applies to awarding merit-based scholarships.
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Acting President Hilton Hallock said APU’s policy reflects the school’s belief that “students are more than their test scores.”
“The decision to go test-blind matches our strategic plan for the university: we aim to cultivate a multicultural community where people love to learn and work, and we plan to continuously assess our processes to ensure we’re always improving as a university,” Hilton added.
While proudly celebrating its new progressive admissions policy, the university has not figured out how to entirely jettisoned the idea of considering academic performance when admitting students. The school still requires official high school and college transcripts, and a high school grade point average of 2.5 or higher based on a 4.0 scale. Additionally, international students must submit all their grade transcripts pass an English language test prior to admission.