‘De-standardizing’ tests: GV student senators seek admissions changes

GVL+%2F+Lauren+Seymour

GVL / Lauren Seymour

Joshua Alburtus, Staff Writer

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause disruptions and delays in the education system, Grand Valley State University has temporarily made standardized tests optional for applicants. 

However, legislation from two members of the university’s student government could turn the new policy into a lasting change.

On Jan. 13, student senators Nancy Hoogwerf and Luke Kreger introduced the draft of their legislation to GVSU’s Student Senate Cabinet. 

The move seeks to keep the university’s temporary admissions policy going through future application periods.

“Our main goal with this legislation is to implement a permanent test-optional policy through the admissions process at Grand Valley,” Hoogwerf said.

The temporary policy was implemented for applicants in 2021, and the university’s Admissions Office website confirms its continuation going into the fall of 2022. 

The co-sponsors of the legislation say that extending the policy would work to reduce disparities in students’ opportunities.

“We’ve definitely seen through the past two years of the pandemic that (it) has just exacerbated every inequity, inequality that there has been pre-existing before the pandemic,” Hoogwerf said. “We just thought if we made GV test-optional through this policy, then we could possibly work through some of the inequalities.”

Co-sponsoring the bill with Hoogwerf, Kreger said he believed that test scores don’t make pertinent indications in the admissions process.

“There is a lot of pressure being applied on students through standardized tests and the scores are usually not a true reflection of the student’s academic ability,” Kreger told member according to minutes filed from the senate cabinet’s meeting

Previously, the university had required such tests like the SAT or the ACT to be considered for admissions. 

According to the university’s records, the middle 50% of scores for those admitted ranged from 1050 to 1240 on the SAT and from 21 to 26 on the ACT. If the legislation were to pass, it would represent a large shift from previous consideration protocols.

To take such sizeable action, members of the senate cabinet suggested that the sponsors coordinate with the university in crafting the legislation.

Vice President for Public Relations, Eldon Pearson, said during the meeting that knowing whether the university was already considering plans to address the subject was key.

Hoogwerf said she has communicated with the Admissions Office on the subject. However, at this point, she found that the university has no plans yet to make the policy permanent.

“They have not because what we have learned is that the Admissions Office works on an annual basis,” Hoogwerf said. “They basically work through the next year, so more of a permanent thing would be harder for them to work on.”

In addition to university coordination, Cabinet members also suggested having the legislation establish something more short-term. 

Instead of creating a permanent policy, they proposed having the legislation initiate a pilot program to test the effects of omitting standardized test scores from the admissions process. 

The suggestion was based on the emergence of such trial programs from other universities.

After the sponsors make their revisions, Student Senate bylaws indicate that the legislation can advance to the full senate for a vote after one more cabinet meeting. 

Hoogwerf said she is optimistic about the future of the legislation.

“I am really hoping that I have provided enough research within my legislation to where my colleagues will be able to see that this is a very apparent issue, and they will vote based on that,” Hoogwerf said.