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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

NIU No Longer Looking At SAT & ACT Scores

NIU's Altgeld Hall
Susan Stephens
Northern Illinois University

Students applying to Northern Illinois University with a 3.0 grade point average or higher will soon be automatically admitted.

Other universities, including Western Illinois University, have already adopted test-optional policies.

NIU is the first public university in the state to go completely test blind starting fall 2021.

The university will no longer look at SAT and ACT scores for admission as well as merit scholarships.

Quinton Clay is the director of admissions at NIU. He says research has shown GPA is a more accurate assessment of academic readiness.

“As an institution, it really becomes important that we do the right thing when we have good information and stop trying to find ways to justify old, antiquated and frankly, inefficient, ineffective methods,” he said.

Clay also says it’s an equity issue. Critics argue success on standardized tests is often tied to test prep resources and family income level.

And while he says they can’t be positive if the move will increase enrollment, he’s hopeful it can play a positive role in the student experience.

“Maybe students in similar profiles weren't getting merit scholarships because of their standardized test score," said Clay. "Now students will have the opportunity to be eligible for a merit scholarship just based off a high school G.P.A. alone."

Students who don’t meet the G.P.A. threshold can still be admitted. Clay says they’ll be assessed by a new holistic review process.

He says that means looking at a student’s individual circumstances like their family background or even how rigorous their high school classes were.