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Niagara U dropping SAT & ACT admission requirement

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WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Niagara University is making a bold move to no longer require the SAT and ACT for admission by the fall of 2018.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says University leaders held a news conference to announce the new 'test-optional' policy.

“It’s about bringing the very best students to Niagara and knowing they will succeed at the university,” stated Dr. Debra Colley, Executive Vice President at Niagara University.  

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Dr. Debra Colley, Executive Vice President at Niagara University.

Dr. Colley explained that for high school students seeking future admission into Niagara it will be all about their "academic reputation".       

“What was your pathway in high school, because that tells us everything about what you are prepared to do in college?” said Colley.

The university examined key data finding that a high school student's Grade Point Average provides the ‘highest predictive strength.’  

Niagara University junior Britini D'Angelo said she was not the most successful standardized test taker, but now carries a 4.0-grade point average. 

“So eliminating and reducing the emphasis on a standardized test – what will that do? It will give students the ability to allow their grades, their class choices, their dedication, and their extracurricular activities to be highlighted,” remarked D’Angelo. 

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Niagara University junior Britini D'Angelo appeared at the news conference.

“We are confident about this step that we’re taking,” stated University President Father James Maher.

We asked him about the critics who believe the college boards are necessary to gage a student's learning.

“Are you afraid that anyone out there would consider it a dumbing down?” asked Buckley.

“That’s always something that’s kind of a popular misconception, but it’s really a validation of the education process in high schools and the rigor that’s in the curriculums in high school,” responded Father Maher.

Still, others they believe the SAT's are unfair to students who live in poverty.

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Credit WBFO News photo by Karen DeWitt
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Students at Niagara University gathered for the announcement.

Both Schools superintendents from Lewiston-Porter and Niagara Falls City Schools embrace this new policy at Niagara.

“When wise decisions like this are made it levels the playing field for our students and that’s why I appreciate it and that’s why I’m here,” commented Mark Laurrie, Niagara Falls City Schools Superintendent.

“It’s that nagging piece to their puzzle that they know that they have to take and I think it holds a lot of kids back,” remarked Paul Casseri, Lewiston-Porter Schools Superintendent.

Niagara University is following a national trend. Nationally DePaul, St. John's, Holy Cross, Hobart, American University, William Smith Colleges, LeMoyne College, Providence and Wake Forest University follow the ‘test-optional’ policy. 

But here, in Western w York, schools including Villa Maria, Hilbert and Daemen already use the policy.

Niagara noted those seeking scholarships and certain programs in nursing and the sciences will still be required to take the SAT and ACT.