Article spotlights impact of test-optional policy at UW–Madison

A recent Wisconsin State Journal article spotlights research efforts led by UW–Madison’s Nicholas Hillman examining the impact of a pandemic-induced policy allowing UW–Madison applicants to opt out of sending their standardized test scores.

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The article, headlined “Here’s what early results of UW–Madison’s ACT/SAT test-optional experiment show,” notes that findings from the first year of the policy being in place show that making standardized test scores optional led more students to apply to UW–Madison but did not significantly diversify the applicant pool.

The article explains that researchers are planning to study the impact of the test-optional policy for three years, and release their findings, along with a recommendation on whether to continue it, in 2024. In December, the UW System Board of Regents extended the test-optional policy through 2024-2025, allowing all current high school students the choice to forego submitting their scores.

Though the test-optional policy is System-wide, this preliminary research focuses only on the impact of the policy at UW–Madison.

“There’s nothing game-changing in our findings so far, from my vantage point,” says Hillman, who runs the Student Success Through Applied Research (SSTAR) lab that is working with the UW System on the research. “So much is still up in the air so we don’t want to jump the gun or get ahead of the evidence. That’s part of why we’re studying several years.”

Hillman is a professor in the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.

Learn more about the impact of the test-optional policy at UW–Madison by reading the full Wisconsin State Journal article.

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