WATCH: Why universities are discontinuing standardized testing

Wisconsin Representative Dave Murphy says test-optional policies are harmful to students and taxpayers.

He chairs the state legislature’s Committee on Colleges and Universities.

When the University of Wisconsin extended its test-optional admissions policy through the spring of 2025, state Rep. Dave Murphy spoke out. The chair of the state legislature’s Committee on Colleges and Universities issued a statement saying the extension “is bad for students, it’s bad for colleges, and it’s bad for taxpayers.”

Murphy spoke with Campus Reform about his push for excellence in higher education. 

He said the extension of the test-optional policy is motivated not by COVID, but by the wants of university leaders and administrators. “I think they figured out that they can use COVID as an excuse to extend something that they always wanted to do anyway,” he said.

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Without SAT and ACT scores, in Murphy’s view, college admissions will be less fair. He says the use of standardized tests in admissions is “objective rather than being subjected.” “Looking more at interviews and a written essay,” he said, would create “a very subjective process.”

Murphy tried to get clarity on the process by requesting documents from the University of Wisconsin on how it trains its admissions officers. He received around 50 pages “after quite a lengthy period of time,” most of them heavily redacted. Even the bullet points were redacted so that the reader cannot see if a list was separated by numbers or letters. “Apparently 1-2-3 or A-B-C are a secret,” he said.

[RELATED: Lawmaker criticizes university for extending test-optional admissions policy]

When Murphy asked what triggered the hefty redactions, the university stated three reasons. “Number one was trade secrets,” he said. “The second reason that they gave was that the release of this information would harm the public interest…they also said that they were redacting for the protection of certain employees.”

A lax admissions process has ramifications far beyond the campus gates, Murphy explained. “If you start using bad procedures for taking in students, I think over time you’re just going to slowly erode the student body in those institutions to where they’re not high caliber institutions anymore.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito