Students who apply to Stony Brook University and all other...

Students who apply to Stony Brook University and all other SUNY campuses will no longer have to submit SAT or ACT standardized test scores. Credit: Daniel Brennan

The State University of New York has eliminated its requirement that students submit SAT or ACT standardized test scores when applying to its four-year colleges, continuing a trend in higher education across the country.

The SUNY board of trustees voted unanimously this week to abandon the requirement that prospective students submit standardized test scores, ending the decades-old practice that critics say discriminates against disadvantaged students.

The new policy extends the suspension of the requirement that began in June 2020 at four-year SUNY colleges, as part of the emergency measures linked to the pandemic. Educators said at the time that COVID-19 made group testing unsafe.

SUNY Chancellor John King made the resolution to scrap the policy indefinitely during the Tuesday meeting of the board of trustees. He noted that higher education systems across the state and country have done so, and that fewer high school students in New York are taking the standardized tests.

"It is recommended that the current authorization for campuses to suspend the undergraduate admissions requirement to submit SAT and ACT scores be continued prospectively, with flexibility maintained for campuses (students may still submit standardized test scores if available)," King said in a resolution submitted to the board.

The policy affects the Long Island SUNY campuses of Stony Brook University, the College at Old Westbury and Farmingdale State College. The Island's two-year SUNY schools — Nassau and Suffolk community colleges — already had open enrollment that did not require the submission of standardized test scores.

SUNY, King added, will continue to look at students' grades, programs of study and nonacademic achievement as it evaluates the potential success of candidates for admission.

Eliminating the test scores requirement, King told Newsday on Friday, "allows campuses to make the decision on what they will use in their holistic evaluation alongside grades, extracurriculars. What experiences students have had during their summers." 

"Making admissions tests optional allows those students who believe the test represent their aptitude well to still use them," said Timothy Sams, president of SUNY Old Westbury. "At the same time, students who don't test well, or don't have the means to undergo the test prep so many students experience, can focus on the rigor of their schoolwork, their service commitments and more to show universities what they bring to the table as prospective students."

Hofstra University had already done away with mandatory test results, making them optional. Adelphi University decided in March that standardized tests would be optional for students entering its undergraduate programs through fall 2028/spring 2029, extending a policy adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

FairTest, a Brooklyn-based group that advocates against standardized testing, said 82% of four-year colleges in the United States did not require either SAT or ACT test results to apply for the 2023 school year.

Harry Feder, the group's executive director, said many disadvantaged students could not afford test prep tutoring that may be expensive. 

"Standardized tests reflect one thing and one thing only — family wealth," Feder said. "It limits a college's ability to attract a diverse pool of candidates, both socioeconomically and racially."

Feder added, "Hopefully down the road these schools will be more diverse, have more equity and a more talented pool of college graduates."

With John Asbury

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