I am pleased to announce that the University of San Francisco will no longer require the submission of standardized test scores in our undergraduate admission process. This new policy will begin with students who are applying to enroll in the fall of 2020.
USF joins more than 1,000 accredited four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. that are now test-optional. This list also includes seven other Jesuit universities: Creighton, Fairfield, Holy Cross, LeMoyne, Loyola Maryland, St. Peter’s, and St. Joseph’s.
I am also pleased to share with you that faculty partnership with administration was instrumental in this change in policy. The Strategic Enrollment Committee Faculty Advisory Board (chaired by Professor Keally McBride of the politics department), in dialogue with VP Michael Beseda, undertook a year-long assessment of the use and value of standardized test scores for undergraduate admission at USF. The committee then presented a resolution to adopt test-optional admissions, which was endorsed by the University of San Francisco Faculty Association (USFFA) Policy Board on March 20, 2019, and subsequently approved by Provost Don Heller and me.
We believe this move is the right thing to do, in light of studies consistently showing that high school performance is a better predictor of first-year college performance, and that standardized test scores have a low correlation with persistence and graduation. Moving to a test-optional policy allows prospective students to choose how to present the most accurate view of their academic ability. If they believe their standardized test scores do not represent their accomplishments and potential, they can choose a test-optional process.
Further, an ACT or SAT score is often more reflective of a student’s economic background and the resources of their high school rather than demonstrating their academic abilities and college preparedness. There are well-documented findings of racial and cultural bias in test construction, as well the inequities that exist across the nation’s school systems.
We are confident that even without standardized test scores, our holistic review of students’ applications to join our beloved community is the most important element of our work to build an intellectually curious, diverse, and engaged entering class. This move is consistent with our foundational Jesuit values of caring for and appreciating the whole person, and I am confident that it will contribute to an even stronger USF.
Again, my thanks to the USFFA for their partnership on this matter, and to Provost Don Heller and Vice Provost for Strategic Enrollment Management Michael Beseda for embracing this important and mission-focused new policy.
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.