CPP revaluates admission eligibility one test score at a time

For the 2020-2021 academic year, all California State University campuses will temporarily suspend the use of ACT and SAT test scores in the admission process. In response, Cal Poly Pomona reevaluated its eligibility index and created a new index that no longer requires these test scores in the admission evaluation process.

The CSU eligibility index, exercised across all 23 campuses, calculates university eligibility based on GPA and standardized test scores. With the new direction from CSU Chancellor Timothy White, all 23 universities may supplement their eligibility with non-academic criteria in place of standardized testing.

“What the chancellor’s office has let each campus do is to create their own model; they gave us non-academic criteria to be able to use with that,” said Jessica Wagoner, senior associate vice president for enrollment management and services. “Everybody had the ability to create their model, and so it’s going to be very interesting to see how the different models are on the different campuses.”

(Courtesy of Ben Mullins)

The university’s new multifactor admission model, called the CPP Eligibility Index, is heavily weighted by academic factors and now takes into consideration student experience and special circumstances. This includes prioritization of local applicants, extra-curricular activities, work experience, foster youth, military status and first-generation students.

“I believe that this is a great opportunity to look at these multiple factors that we’re considering, especially for those who are below a 2.5 GPA, and really begin to ask ourselves, ‘As a polytechnic university, what things would we want to see in our incoming students?’” said Sylvia Alva, provost and vice president of CPP.

To test how the eligibility outcomes would differ, the Admissions Department compared this new model to the old eligibility index used in fall 2019 and fall 2020 applicant pools. The new eligibility index emphasizes inclusivity.

“In the outcomes, we started noticing that the diversity went up and also we admitted more female students once the ACT and SAT were removed from the eligibility index model,” said Brandon Tuck, interim director of admissions.

Although the change is temporary, first year biology student, Kathryn Yocum believes it should be made a permanent policy, as standardized tests are a privilege many students cannot afford.

“I didn’t do so well on it because I couldn’t afford the books and tutoring, and I only took it once, too,” said Yocum. “I think this should be permanent because there are so many kids like me who can’t even afford to take it.”

Prep books, private tutoring, and the tests add up. Currently, the SAT alone costs $65 including the essay, and the ACT costs $70 including the writing portion. Additionally, accessibility to testing facilities can be a challenge, especially now that test centers must adhere to strict local public health guidelines.

Many students think standardized test scores also lack a capability to judge a student’s character and skills outside of their ability test take.

“There are a lot of students who are really smart but just aren’t very good at test taking,” said third year accounting student Ashley Cortez-Estrada. “They should be able to actually showcase their intelligence in other ways.”

“Co-curricular engagement, leadership, these are important traits that we want to call out and say to folks, ‘We don’t want people who just know how to do well on standardized tests; our definition of talent and what we want to nurture is broader than test-taking,”’ Alva added.

The complete CPP eligibility index can be found here.

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