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Dartmouth College first Ivy League to reinstate standardized-testing requirement

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Oh how the tides are changing. Dartmouth College, one of the so-called elite Ivy League institutions is reinstating the SAT requirement for admissions beginning with the Class of 2029. The requirement was ended as one of the consequences of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Dartmouth president Sian Beilock wrote an email to the university community that the decision to reimplement the standardized test was made in response to a faculty study which found that “standardized test scores are an important predictor of a student’s success in Dartmouth’s curriculum” regardless of a “student’s background or family income.”

“We’re getting more and more applications from all around the world, and so in order to find high achieving students, test scores turn out to be a really helpful tool,” said one of the professors involved in the review, Bruce Sacerdote. “Our analysis shows that we potentially miss out on some great applicants when we don’t have [test scores].”

Critics of the test requirement claimed it was a handicap for underprivileged students, thwarting their chances to “succeed”. Now, however, the narrative is that rather than a handicap to underprivileged students, the test requirement can help shine a spotlight on achievers from poor areas.

“That’s why testing is so helpful to less advantaged students because when admissions sees, ‘Wow, this student is really excelling in a less than perfect environment,’ that can be a very strong signal for that candidate,” Sacerdote said.

Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Lee Coffin, clarified that grades and extracurriculars are still important on an application, but they proved insufficient for selecting the most promising students as the vast majority of applicants have very high grades and are very involved in extracurriculars.

“Social science has a concept called the ceiling effect,” Coffin told the Dartmouth. “When you plot people in a curve, there’s a cluster at the top of the curve. That’s our applicant pool. Most of the people who apply to Dartmouth are straight A students.”

Even for the last few years of “test-optional,” most of the students who ended up at the college sent in testing results as part of their file, Coffin added. The college suspects that the applicant pool will shrink as a result of the move. But rather than viewing that fact as something that is disenfranchising students, the college sees it also as a mechanism to weed out unserious candidates.

“I would be sad as the Dean of Admissions if people were applying to Dartmouth only because we’re test-optional,” Coffin said.

National Review reports that “amid the pandemic in June 2020, Harvard University temporarily waived its requirement that applicants submit their SAT or ACT standardized test scores. The school then extended the waiver in 2021 and again for the 2022-2026 application cycles. In March 2023, Columbia University ditched its standardized test requirement for incoming undergraduate students. Two years prior, the University of California system eliminated both the SAT and ACT tests from admissions decisions across its ten schools, including Berkeley.”

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Report: Denver area migrants cost $340 million to shelter, educate

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A report by the free-market Common Sense Institute found the more than 42,000 migrants who have arrived in Denver over the last year and a half have cost the region as much as $340 million. The city of Denver, local school districts, and the region’s health-care system have spent between $216 million and $340 million combined to shelter, feed, clothe, and educate the migrants, and to provide them with emergency medical care.

National Review explains the report builds off a previous report from March that conservatively found that the migrants had cost the region at least $170 million. “Costs are never localized,” said DJ Summers, the institute’s research director. “They expand outward.”

Democratic leaders are being blamed for their welcoming posture toward immigrants generally, and their sanctuary-city policies, which curtail law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with federal immigration agents. Since late December 2022, at least 42,269 migrants — or “newcomers” as Denver leaders call them — have arrived in the city, adds National Review.

The Common Sense Institute report found that the migrant crisis has also hit local emergency rooms hard with extensive expenses. Since December 2022, migrants have made more than 16,000 visits to metro emergency departments. At an estimated cost of about $3,000 per visit, that has resulted in nearly $48 million in uncompensated care.

Summers said those costs are “stressing existing health care organizations,” but they also indirectly hit residents in their pocketbooks through increased insurance prices.

Metro school districts have endured the biggest financial hit — estimated between $98 million and $222 million — according to the Common Sense Institute report. The large range in costs is due to the difficulties researchers had identifying exactly how many new foreign students are tied to the migrant crisis.

The researchers found that since December 2022, 15,725 foreign students have enrolled in local schools. Of those, 6,929 have come from the five countries most closely identified with the migrant crisis — Venezuela, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

On average, it costs a little over $14,000 to educate a student for a year in a Denver-area public school, but Summers said migrant students likely cost more.

“They have transportation needs that are different, they have acculturation needs that are going to be different, language assistance needs that are going to be different,” he said. “Many of them might need to get up to speed in curriculum. They might need outside tutoring.”

Earlier this year, Colorado lawmakers approved $24 million in state funding to help school districts statewide plug budget holes related to the migrant students.

Summers said the updated Common Sense Institute tally is likely still missing some costs related to the ongoing migrant crisis.

“There are definitely additional costs. We just don’t have a great way to measure them just yet,” he said, noting legal fees, crime, and unreported business and nonprofit expenses.

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