Columbia University Removes Standardized Test Requirement For Applicants

An increasing number of reports have surfaced in recent months regarding schools that have canceled honors programs, delayed delivery of merit awards, or otherwise engaged in what critics say is an academic “race to the bottom.”

Now, one of the nation’s most highly esteemed universities is removing its requirement that prospective students include their SAT and ACT scores as part of the application process.

Columbia University in New York announced the change in a statement following an earlier indication that including standardized test results would be optional but no longer mandatory.

“Our review is purposeful and nuanced — respecting varied backgrounds, voices and experiences — in order to best determine an applicant’s suitability for admission and ability to thrive in our curriculum and our community, and to advance access to our educational opportunities,” the Ivy League university confirmed.

The shift appears to be further evidence that so-called equity is replacing merit as a central focus within the academic realm.

“The attacks on standardized tests are part of a broader assault on academic sorting,” argued Yale University political science major Sean-Michael Pigeon in a 2021 USA Today op-ed. “Advanced learning classes in Boston have been canceled lest they create unequal outcomes. Others are going further. A number of schools in California will stop using traditional A-F grading to combat inequality. Who benefits from these policies? Activists think they are helping marginalized communities, but they are actually stripping them of their ability to showcase their talents.”

Although Columbia is the first Ivy League university to permanently remove standardized test scores as a prerequisite for applicants, a number of others — including Harvard, Princeton, and Cornell — offered a temporary pandemic-related reprieve.

The National Education Association published an article perpetuating the claim that such tests are inherently racist, citing the claims of individuals like Young Whan Choi, who serves as the Oakland, California, Unified School District’s manager of performative assessments.

“While much has been said about the racial achievement gap as a civil rights issue, more attention needs to be paid to the measurement tools used to define that gap,” he asserted. “Education reformists, civil rights organizations, and all who are concerned with racial justice in education need to advocate for assessment tools that don’t replicate racial and economic inequality.”