Lincoln University in Jefferson City dropped its standardized testing requirement for admissions, making completion of high school or a GED program the only requirement for enrollment.
Lincoln, a Historically Black College and University with an open enrollment policy, announced the change and its immediate implementation Friday. Students applying to enroll at LU for the fall semester can apply with or without ACT and SAT scores.
"Since our founding in 1866, Lincoln University has helped students rise above barriers to quality education. This change to our admissions policy removes an obstacle that often hinders prospective students," University President John Moseley said in a news release. "Making standard test scores optional is another step forward in our commitment to opening doors for students, to promoting equity, diversity and accessibility."
Lincoln's School of Nursing may continue to use ACT and SAT test scores or general nursing exam scores for admission, Moseley said, and some scholarships within the agriculture department may also maintain their standardized testing components.
The university's new automatic scholarship structure, known as the Blue Tiger Advantage Scholarship, still requires freshmen to have an ACT or SAT score to determine award amounts. The scholarships are awarded based on a matrix factoring standardized test scores and GPA.
Moseley said Lincoln is working on a new Blue Tiger model with a "very strong likelihood that there will be academic scholarships based solely on high school overall GPA."
He said it would likely be implemented for the fall 2023 class.
The move at Lincoln follows that of several other public universities in the state that have made reporting test scores optional, such as the University of Missouri and Truman State University. Missouri State University makes submitting test scores optional if the prospective student meets GPA requirements.
Standardized tests have been criticized for racial bias that results in disparities for minority students. In 2021, the National Education Association released a report titled, "The Racist Beginnings of Standardized Testing," in which it called standardized tests "instruments of racism."
"It's been a big topic of conversation just because there's really been research to show that ACT scores don't necessarily reflect how well a student's going to perform in college," Moseley said. "And there's been a lot of questions as it pertains to students of color and the relevancy, so I think it's a step in the right direction for us."
Moseley said Lincoln puts value on a student's drive and potential when considering them to be admitted.
"Test scores often fail to reflect what a student can achieve," he said. "We look at GPA, high school performance and their commitment to excellence. At Lincoln, we provide students with support needed to succeed and that support starts with their college acceptance."
Lincoln has reformed several areas of its admissions process in an effort to boost enrollment. In addition to dropping testing requirements, the university added automatic scholarships, recently cleared student balances and is strengthening recruitment approaches to increase the number of students on campus.