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Georgia public colleges to expand admissions testing requirements for fall 2026

Credit: iStock

by Ross Williams, Georgia Recorder
May 14, 2024

Time to dust off those old study guides. More Georgia colleges are set to require standardized test scores for all new applicants, reversing a policy put in place in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting in the fall 2026 semester, hopeful students at Augusta University, The University of Georgia, The Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia College and State University, Georgia State University, Georgia Southern University and Kennesaw State University will need to provide SAT or ACT scores on their applications under rule changes unanimously approved by the Georgia Board of Regents Tuesday. Other University System of Georgia schools can choose to implement testing requirements based on high school GPA.

Until then, only those looking to enroll at UGA, Tech or GCSU will need to submit test scores.

“Our motivation is to do what’s best for the student and the system,” said Board of Regents Chair Harold Reynolds. “Personally, maybe putting COVID a little bit further behind us feels a little good too.”

The regents began waiving test scores in early 2020 after shelter-in-place orders canceled testing appointments for kids around the country. Except for part of 2022, the waiver has been in place ever since. The regents most recently extended it at their April meeting.

Other university systems around the country did the same thing. In a fall 2023 survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, only 4.9% of colleges said admission test scores like the SAT and ACT are of considerable importance – down from 46% in 2018 and 58% in 2013.

Chancellor Sonny Perdue said testing should be part of admissions officer’s decisions.

“There’s been some dispute about which is a better indicator, GPA or standardized testing, regarding student success,” he said. “However, there’s no dispute that both of those factors are supreme to either one or the other of that, in that regard.”

Some anti-standardized testing advocates said COVID restrictions spurring schools to stop accepting tests was a blessing in disguise. Even before the pandemic, some argued that standardized test scores do not measure scholastic aptitude and that requiring them discourages qualified students from poor or minority backgrounds from applying to top schools.

“Using the SAT as the gatekeeper for higher education turns out to test one thing above all else: existing station in life,” wrote Harry Feder and Akil Bello, executive director and senior director of FairTest, a group that advocates for equitable testing in education and employment, in a February report.

“Nobody contests that SAT scores correlate fabulously to family income and wealth and parental education levels,”  Those factors determine how and where you are educated before you apply to college. Mind training, intellectual and personal habits, and comfort with the underlying content that is developed over the course of years all funnel into greater likelihood of doing well on the SAT. There is also the additional factor of being able, at the moment of inflection, to hire high priced tutors to prepare for the exam. What the SAT, and standardized tests generally, seem to pick up better than anything is whether your origins lie in the winning side of the existing birth ‘meritocracy.’”

Georgia Southern University President Kyle Marrero said he thinks moving back to required testing is the right choice and said the two-year heads-up will allow admissions departments and future applicants to get ready.

“Our processes are very much marketing communication all the way through to sophomores in high school,” he said. “That gives us time to start to message that. It also gives us time to be part of enculturating back test taking within our region, within our marketplaces. That’s going to take some time, particularly with counselors as we work through that.”

Kennesaw State University President Kathy Schwaig said she supports making the swap because test scores can be a valuable set of data for helping students.

“I do think there’s predictive validity in the test scores,” she said. “I think that’s helpful. I think it helps us to know how to better serve our students and the support systems that we want to put in place for our students. I do think there’s predictive validity in the test scores. I think that’s helpful. I think it helps us to know how to better serve our students and the support systems that we want to put in place for our students.”

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence.

This story is republished from Georgia Recorder under a Creative Commons license. Read the original story.