As colleges drop SAT/ACT requirements, Butler County students get ‘more of a fair shake’

The recent news of Miami University extending its SAT and ACT scores optional for student admissions has some area high school counselors welcoming the move, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

The policy change announced by Miami officials last week will impact first-year applicants seeking admission starting fall of 2022 and spring 2023.

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Freshman starting this fall at Miami are already covered by the policy.

Scott Davie, a veteran student counselor at Talawanda High School, said the change is the latest in a developing trend at Miami and other universities to de-emphasize the SAT and ACT exams roles among the criteria for college admission.

“Most schools have done that already,” said Davie.

“What this really does is provide students with more options. This doesn’t just apply to Talawanda but to (high school) students in general, wherever there are students who are very diligent and hard workers. They work as hard as they can to achieve high grades in their classes and some of those classes are very challenging.”

“But sometimes those students do not perform well in high-stakes, three-and-a-half hour tests like the SAT and the ACT.”

“So the test optional feature a lot of schools are moving to – and some of this was happening pre-covid as well – really provides those students with more of a fair shake in terms of how they are being evaluated by the universities,” said Davie.

Miami officials said their admissions approach in recent years had already incorporated a more “holistic approach” that decreased the weight of SAT and ACT test scores prior to the onset of the coronavirus in March 2020.

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“Not only has it resulted in a steady stream of high caliber applicants, but it has opened up a tremendous opportunity for access and equity,” said Bethany Perkins, Miami University director of admission.

Officials said the class admitted for fall 2021, the first to use this policy, is the best-performing academically in Miami’s history.

Ohio K-12 schools and many across the nation were closed by the pandemic in the last third of the 2019-20 school year. And the 2020-21 school year has seen historic disruptions in class schedules and learning throughout the country.

Miami’s evaluation of prospective student applications will continue to consider factors such as grades, GPA and strength of curriculum; application essays; co-curricular and extracurricular activities; talent; and personal background, among other factors.

“It benefits more students and so I welcome the change,” said Davie.