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Assessment tests scrapped for 2020

By Fran Gonzalez | Apr 17, 2020

Maine high schools will not be offering students the chance to sharpen their No. 2 pencils in preparation for taking the sometimes-dreaded, multiple-choice SAT exam this spring.

In an April 7 press release, Commissioner of Education Pender Makin said assessment tests in Maine this spring, including eMPowerME, SAT, Multi-State Alternate Assessment, Science, and Science Alternative Assessment, will not be administered because of concerns about spreading the coronavirus and a shift to remote learning in Maine schools.

“We have confirmed that the SAT is not required for admission, nor will it be required as a screener for any program, at any Maine college or university.  In addition, we are hearing that colleges and universities across the country are following suit," Makin said in a letter posted on the Department of Education website.

According to an NPR report cited in Makin’s letter, many colleges across the country have dropped SAT or ACT requirements for admission or are moving to a "testing optional" model. Area colleges we surveyed show a majority of schools in Maine have already shifted to this trend.

According to Bowdoin College Assistant Dean of Admissions Jameel Moore, the school was the first to adopt a test-optional model in 1969. Since then, the Brunswick college has based admission on high school transcripts, writing and teacher referrals.

According to the college’s website, nearly 31% of students (in the class of 2023) chose not to submit their scores. This policy allows applicants to decide whether their SAT or ACT results accurately reflect their academic ability, the school says. Bowdoin College enrollment for 2016 was 1,806. The school has a 14% acceptance rate and a 93% graduation rate.

Thomas College decided to become test-optional in 2015. Wendy Martin, assistant vice president of admissions, said a student's high school transcript is “a strong predictor of college readiness as we review for Thomas College admission.”

College admissions officials at University of Maine at Augusta and Unity College said their schools do not require standardized tests for admission.

The Colby College website says SAT or ACT scores are optional, but are recommended by specific departments within the school to improve an applicant's chances.

According to its website, Bates College in Lewiston has been test-optional since 1984, and maintains that testing is not reflective of an applicant’s future success. Bates' total enrollment for 2015 was 1,792. The school has a 22% acceptance rate and an 88% graduation rate.

In an online video, a Bates College admissions official said, "Standardized tests are just one of many factors in the admission review process. We can look at a transcript and get 3 1/2 years of one's academic performance, versus 3 1/2 hours on a Saturday morning. The transcript is going to tell us a whole heck of a lot more."

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