CWU makes admissions tests optional

Libby Williams, Staff Reporter

CWU has announced that the SAT and ACT are both optional for all applicants starting fall 2021. This decision comes after about a year of discussion and will be a permanent change, even after the pandemic.

“It’s something that many schools have been talking about for a really long time,” Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Life Michelle DenBeste said. “The pandemic kind of pushed the conversation forward, which to me is good. We’re agreeing to make SAT or ACT scores optional for admission. No one need feel like they have to take them.”

DenBeste started working at CWU in May of last year, right at the start of the pandemic. She said there has been a team discussing this change since before she was hired. This team consisted of administrators and faculty. 

DenBeste said all of Washington’s public institutions are making this change in their admissions process, and she thinks it’s for the better.

“We’ve known for a long time that standardized testing was problematic for a lot of groups,” DenBeste said. “It’s always been an obstacle for students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

DenBeste said there are many factors that make standardized testing inequitable. Some high schools offer more AP classes and standardized testing prep than others. Some students can afford to take the tests over and over until they get a good score, while others can only afford to take it once.

“I’ve been surprised that this is even controversial. I think it’s a good thing for all,” said DenBeste. “Whether you’ve come from a really fancy school and you took all the classes, or whether you’re a late bloomer, and you didn’t get ahead in that way.”

DenBeste said she imagines more public schools nationwide will follow suit in making these tests optional, and that most schools in California have been doing this for at least a year. She said it’s become more clear to school’s that the bottom line is that standardized tests are a part of a corporation to make money.

“I think that we’ve been pretending like these are objective when they never really were,” DenBeste said. “[We’ve] sort of been using them as a crutch, so I think it’s a really good thing for all students, and particularly for Central students. You know, we’re not that selective, if you meet the criteria, we’re likely going to let you in.”