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Colorado public colleges, universities can opt-out of SAT and ACT test requirements

Advocates, including CU Boulder, say the goal is to encourage a wider and more diverse applicant pool for getting into college.

COLORADO, USA — Colorado public colleges and universities do not have to require incoming freshmen to submit SAT or ACT results after Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) signed HB 21-1067 into law Tuesday.

The law says public institutions can decide if applicants need SAT or ACT test scores. At colleges that choose not to require the standardized tests, students could still submit scores if they choose.  

“We are trying to level the playing field by the passage of this bill by saying that you are not just a test score,” Clark Brigger, executive director of admissions at the University of Colorado (CU Boulder), told 9NEWS.

The state legislature gave Brigger permission to test out this new application process last summer, and the results proved why this new law is important to increase diversity, he said. 

“In that timeframe, we have seen an explosion across Colorado at all of the public institutions in access and equity type of applications, so a lot more diversity in our applicant pool,” Brigger said.

CU Boulder joined other public Colorado universities in support of the bill, which Democrats introduced this year.

In a statement, CU Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano said in part: “Reducing barriers to the college admissions process creates more equity and helps us fulfill our responsibility as the state’s flagship public research university to educate all Colorado students regardless of financial means and backgrounds.”

Colorado State University (CSU) is also applauding the new law.

“At CSU we’re thrilled to be able to remove this barrier that we know prevented some very capable students from applying for a variety of reasons,  such as not being able afford to take the prep classes to boost their test scores, or to reduce test anxiety by taking the test multiple times like some of their peers,” said Heather Daniels, director of admissions. “Because of this action by the legislature and the governor we’ll see a more diverse applicant pool and a higher acceptance rate because we’re able to offer admissions to more students, which is what we want to see as an access institution.”

Metropolitan State University (MSU) of Denver has always been test-optional for student older than 20 with a high school diploma or GED.

“For students 19 and younger coming to MSU Denver from high school, we will consider test scores if submitted, but only if they would help the student's application. We will no longer require test scores for these students to make an admissions decision,” said MSU's Executive Director of Admissions and Outreach, Vaughn Toland. “With an average student age of 25, MSU Denver already admits a large number of students without seeing their test scores. It’s the 20% of MSU Denver students who enroll at age 19 or younger who no longer have to submit scores, as previously required by statute at all public four-year universities in Colorado.”

University systems in California and Oregon have adopted similar, test-optional rules.

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