The University of Louisiana at Lafayette intends to eliminate the ACT standardized test requirement for incoming students.
According to Vice President of Enrollment Management DeWayne Bowie, the Louisiana Board of Regents studied and observed admissions for the past two to three years to discover that the ACT was not the ideal determinant of academic achievement for freshmen.
“They’re saying standardized test scores are not the single best predictor for college success, particularly the first semester,” Bowie said. “They were finding that the overall high school GPA is, which was surprising to a lot of folks.”
Due to COVID-19, schools started taking a more holistic approach with considering students for admission, which included looking at more factors besides the ACT due to the lack of test results from most students.
According to Bowie, schools had to find other ways of determining where to place students for classes and COVID-19 sparked those considerations for alternative factors and the potential removal of mandatory ACT scores in student applications.
“I think what really got some of us really looking more closely at it is COVID,” Bowie said. “Because so many kids could not take the test because it wasn’t available.”
Instead of using ACT scores as a mandatory element in the admissions process, the university plans to recognize it as an option for students and use it for placement purposes.
Recently, the Louisiana Board of Regents incorporated a new policy in Louisiana public universities and colleges to stop the usage of remedial classes.
According to the board’s website: “Under the new guidelines, college students needing remediation will be placed in for-credit or gateway math/English courses while given additional academic support, an approach known as co-requisite. This will result in students taking a for-credit math or English course with longer time on task instead of a shorter, not-for-credit remedial course.”
The university plans to take away all remedial classes by 2024. Although the ACT will not be required, the university will use the scores to determine the needed resources and help students may need.
All incoming freshmen will start at the same level with classes such as English and math; however, those students with lower test scores or no test scores will be subject to more support in those classes. Although the university, like other statewide schools, is choosing to use student GPA as a more essential factor in the admissions process, they’re still trying to figure out the specific GPA cut-off.
According to Bowie, the GPA requirements are still intact until they learn more about what modifications might need to be made. He also encourages students who aren’t submitting ACT scores with their applications to have a higher GPA to help the school determine the level of assistance they need coming in.
“What that GPA tells you is that that student is going to work hard for you. And that’s all you want from a student,” Bowie said. “If they come to this campus, and they’re really going to work hard for you, they can be successful.”
Director of the Ernest J. Gaines Center Cheylon Woods shared how every year since she started working at the campus library, freshmen come in lacking research skills.
According to Woods, standardized testing and the preparation for it leads students to miss those skills related to finding databases, deciphering relevant information for research assignments and even writing research papers.
“To me, standardized testing, not just ACT and SAT, but even standardized testing for people to move up grades, eroded a level of critical thinking that is absolutely necessary for college students,” Woods said.
With COVID-19 policies becoming more relaxed, students are still taking it upon themselves to take the ACT for their own personal reasons.
Lunel LaRose is an incoming freshman to UL Lafayette and took the ACT twice, one time seven years ago in high school and again recently. LaRose shared how previously, he didn’t take the test seriously and was trying to prove a point by intentionally performing horribly on the ACT.
However, this most recent time, LaRose wanted to use the score to apply for scholarships. He thought he was fully prepared for the test, but after starting the test, his confidence in getting a high score went down.
“I got myself to be able to answer the questions correctly, but I did not train myself to pace myself timewise,” LaRose said.
According to LaRose, he understood why some students put so much pressure on themselves or put so much effort into the test, yet he doesn’t agree with this feeling.
“I don’t believe that is a healthy thing to have because it causes people to get depressed when they know they didn’t possibly do well,” LaRose said. “Or it makes them worried or concerned and makes them regret everything. Like I was in my car in tears thinking about just not going to UL at all.”