by Benjamin Yount
The top Republican in the Wisconsin Assembly is not a fan of the UW System’s decision to no longer require an SAT or ACT test.
UW Regents last week approved a plan to extend the school’s “test-optional policy” for two more years. That means high school freshmen and sophomores don’t have to worry about taking the tests in order to get into a University of Wisconsin school.
Regents say dropping the test requirement will help more students get into college.
“This extension allows us to offer continued flexibility in the admissions process for prospective students,” Derek Kindle, vice provost for Enrollment Management, said in a statement Friday.
But Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said dropping the SAT or ACT requirement eliminates a measuring stick that helps to make sure new students are prepared for college.
“Remedial class attendance numbers have been growing for years because high school students are unprepared for college as it is,” Vos said Friday. “Removing the ACT/SAT requirements only exacerbates this.”
A report from the UW System from back in 2018 shows about 20% of new freshmen have to take a remedial math class, while over 6% of new freshmen have to take a remedial English class. Newer reports are no longer available on the UW website.
Vos and lawmakers in Madison have talked for years about the high number of high school students who are behind.
“Only one-third of Wisconsin students are proficient – operating at grade level – in math and English language arts, 64% of Wisconsin students are not proficient in reading, with 34% of Wisconsin students not even meeting a basic reading level,” Vos explained.
The UW System first made the SAT and ACT optional during last year’s coronavirus-inspired school closures, but universities across the country have been emphasizing the test less and less in recent years.
Vos said that’s a bad idea.
“Educational institutions should be reinstating benchmarks, not removing them,” Vos added.
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Benjamin Yount is a regular contributor to The Center Square.