University system extends waiver of test requirements


Grant Blankenship, Georgia Public Broadcasting

Chiquita Dinkins teaches a unit on photosynthesis to students at Northeast High School in Macon. Dinkins, who was head cheerleader at Northeast as a student in the 1980s, is one of 18 alumni teachers at the school.

ATLANTA – The University System of Georgia (USG) will waive SAT and ACT test requirements at most of the system’s 26 institutions for another academic year.

The waiver will apply to all of the system’s colleges and universities except the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Georgia College & State University.

The university system began waiving the test requirements in March 2020 with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The waiver has been in effect for all but 10 months since then.

Most academic researchers have concluded that high school grade-point averages are a better indicator of future success in college than test scores, system Chancellor Sonny Perdue told members of the system’s Board of Regents Wednesday.

The regents heard a presentation during Wednesday’s meeting on the campus of the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega showing that freshman enrollment plummeted last year when the system briefly reimposed the testing requirement. Enrollment rebounded when the system went back to the waiver late last year.

Preliminary data for this coming fall – with the testing waiver remaining in effect – shows an increase in both applications and acceptances, Scott Lingrell, vice chancellor of enrollment and student affairs, told the regents.

“We’re cautiously optimistic about the fall,” he said. “We’re looking really good across our institutions.”

Dana Nichols, the system’s vice chancellor of academic affairs, said nearly 79% of accredited colleges and universities across the nation don’t require standardized tests for admission, including most schools in the neighboring states of Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Many of the schools in Florida and Tennessee also are test-optional, she said.

Perdue said the waiver will include a hold-harmless provision for Georgia College & State University, which will compensate the Milledgeville liberal-arts college financially for any declines in enrollment that occur because it is still requiring testing while most other USG institutions are not.

Perdue said extending the testing waiver through the 2024-25 academic year will help the regents decide whether to go back to testing when the waiver expires.

“This will give us better data analytics next year to make a decision,” he said. “We’re looking for the best data that can guide us for the future.”

In other business during the two-day meeting, the regents did not act on tuition for the coming school year, which they normally do in April. Perdue said the $66 million cut the USG took from the General Assembly in the fiscal 2024 budget left the system’s bean counters unprepared for a vote on tuition this month.

The regents have not raised tuition during five of the last seven years.

Perdue said the funds likely will be restored when lawmakers take up the mid-year budget during next year’s legislative session.

“I believe they understand that higher education … has been the backbone of economic development over the last 20 years,” he said.

The board is expected to vote on tuition at next month’s meeting.

This story comes to The Macon Newsroom through a partnership with The Capitol Beat news.