This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Nervous test-takers, fear not. Temple University announced Tuesday it will join the growing list of colleges ditching the SAT as an entrance requirement.
The university calls it the "Temple Option," describing it as "an admissions path for talented students who show great potential for success but don’t perform well on standardized tests."
The university says the move is in line with its goal of placing more emphasis on noncognitive "grit factors."
"By giving students more choices, we open doors to more first-generation students and those from underserved communities whose enormous academic promise may be overlooked by conventional measures of achievement," said Temple president Neil Theobald in a news release.
With this move, Temple becomes the first national public research university in the Northeast to make test scores optional for admission.
"There are just lots of talented students out there who are being disadvantaged because of the sole reliance on SAT as the sometimes-determining factor in their admission," said William Black, Temple’s senior vice provost for enrollment management, in a telephone interview.
Considering other measures of a student
Black says this will help kids whose high school success isn’t reflected in standardized scores.
As an example, Black referred to a recent Temple student who had attended a Philadelphia School District high school. She took all Advanced Placement courses, had 3.86 GPA, spoke five languages, and yet scored only an 820 on the SAT.
"Those are the kinds of students that we want to find," Black said. "We know that they can succeed at Temple."
Black said students who choose not to submit scores should have "at least in the neighborhood of a 3.5 GPA" and be "probably in the top 10 or 15 percent of their class."
"We’re looking for those attributes that really point to success factors," he said. "We want to develop that potential."
If students do not submit test scores, they must answer four short self-reflective essay questions.
Before this initiative, Black said, students with SAT scores at the 900-1000 level or below "were in trouble."
This initiative makes official an ideology that Temple says it’s been practicing informally for years for students whose standardized test scores dipped well below high school success rates.