Student senate approves legislation to suspend standardized test requirements


GVL / Max Ritchie

Alexander Verheek, Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State University Student Senate voted to approve legislation that asks the GVSU Admissions Office to extend their policy of allowing prospective students the option of providing standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT, in the admissions process. 

The legislation proposing an extension to GVSU’s test optional policy passed nearly unanimously during the Student Senate’s General Assembly meeting on March 3 and will now go to the GVSU administration for approval and potential application. 

In 2020, GVSU temporarily suspended mandatory standardized test score reports for application consideration in order to mitigate barriers and stress due to COVID-19 causing a decline in the availability of standardized tests.

This new legislation encourages GVSU to extend this test optional policy until 2026 with the option of further implementation.

The authors of the resolution, student senators Nancy Hoogwerf and Luke Kreger, both applied to GVSU during the period of optional standardized test reports. 

Both senators said the ability to apply to GVSU without having to send standardized test scores made the process easier and created less stress during the uncertainty of the pandemic.

“We (wrote the legislation) in order to take the stress of testing off of other students,” Hoogwerf said. “As we began to dig deeper, we realized that this issue is much bigger than either of us. Standardized test scores place disadvantages on students of color and low socioeconomic (status) students.” 

Studies have shown that students that come from lower socioeconomic households have, on average, historically lower test scores compared to the test scores of students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. 

Critics of the standardized testing model have claimed that students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds have greater access to test prep resources that have been shown to give an unequal boost in scores in comparison to students that are unable to access these resources. 

Senators Hoogwerf and Kreger said that a test optional policy would help to break down barriers that have prevented students from marginalized communities from having access to higher education. 

They said if GVSU was to reinstate mandatory standardized test score reporting, it’d deter many of these students from applying to the university. 

Both senators believe that extending the test optional policy would only help to grow and diversify GVSU’s student body, as public universities that have adopted a test optional policy have seen an 11% increase in applications nationwide. 

The legislation doesn’t call for the full removal of standardized test scores from the application process, however, it only would remove scores from consideration of admission into the university. 

Incoming prospective students would still be required to provide scores in order to be considered for merit based scholarships from the university. 

Originally, the legislation had included the removal of mandatory score reporting from all aspects of the admissions process but was later removed after the authors spoke with university staff and the admissions office. 

“I’m not going to shy away from the fact that merit based scholarships should not have to include standardized test scores, but that’s just not the main goal right now,” Hoogwerf said. “Hopefully, that’s not something that will be put off much longer.”