From the Field

Q&A: Allensworth on Grades Versus Tests in College Admissions

There has been much debate about the role of standardized tests in college admissions, including whether the SAT and ACT tests are more predictive of college graduation and economic success after graduation. By 2019-20, half the states were requiring that their high school students take the SAT or the ACT under a federal testing mandate and were paying the cost of the testing. But more than a thousand colleges and universities have made SAT and ACT scores voluntary for applicants in response to the pandemic or have abandoned the tests altogether. Now, in a recently published New York Times opinion essay, Times writer David Leonhardt, drawing on new research from Harvard-based Opportunity Insights, argues that selective colleges should continue to use SAT and ACT scores in their admissions decisions because they are better than applicants’ high school grades of college and post-college success.

FutureEd Editorial Director Maureen Kelleher discussed the Leonhardt essay with Elaine Allensworth, the director of the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research and a FutureEd research advisor, whose research on the predictive power of high school grades reaches a different conclusion.