Last year, JCHS launched a pilot program that offered the option of either submitting standardized test scores OR a portfolio of work in lieu of SSAT or ISEE scores. This test-optional pilot was aimed at lowering the stress of test-taking and preparation, and decreasing the financial burden and complication of the application process. This year, we will expand the school’s existing program to encompass TEST-FREE admissions for ALL applicants. This means that JCHS will not accept SSAT, ISEE, or any other standardized test scores as part of the admissions process. We wish for our applicants to be certain that students who do NOT submit standardized testing scores will not be at any competitive disadvantage in the admissions process.
We are so pleased to say that last year's test-optional pilot was a resounding success. It confirmed for us that the characteristics we are deeply interested in, such as intellectual curiosity, motivation, leadership, creativity, and a social conscience, cannot be measured by a standardized test.
This year, it does not feel like an overstatement to say that we anticipate a seismic shift for all students in the ways they prepare for high school. We recognize that taking a standardized test may be especially challenging, given the potential restrictions of shelter-in-place orders. For some students, test-anxiety may be a concern, for others, there may be disparities in the equity of access to secure online testing. With these factors in mind, in addition to the success of our pilot program last year, we are announcing the test-free policy as an update to previously announced "test-optional" program. We are making this change in light of the September 1, 2020 court decision preventing UC schools from using standardized test scores as part of their admissions decision-making process. We also are giving deep consideration to concerns around equity of access for all students.
Safety and Well-Being
At JCHS our highest priority is the safety and well-being of students. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become increasingly clear that many students will experience significant barriers to accessing a secure and safe testing option that fully addresses the unique needs of every learner.Equity and Holistic Approach
This is in addition to ongoing concerns about economic, racial, and gender bias, and the financial and mental burden the testing process can present, in this year or any year. Our admissions process is centered around developing a holistic understanding of who each individual is as a person and as a learner. While a standardized test result can sometimes offer insights into an applicant's file, we feel strongly that this is not a good enough reason to ask students to potentially risk the health and safety of their family or themselves simply to add one small data point that will not be weighed heavily in the final analysis.
At the heart of the JCHS admissions process is really one essential idea: we want to get to know who you are as a unique individual and a whole person
. We would like to see the work of which each student is proudest: your writing, your coding work, your compositions, your writing. For that reason, we will ask students to please submit a portfolio of work with their application. In 2018, when the University of Chicago became the first top ten research university to drop the SAT and ACT requirement, Dean of Admission James Nondorf noted, “We want students to understand the application does not define you -- you define the application." JCHS agrees.
Our school is proud to be a leader in this important decision. We look forward to getting to know you better throughout this Admissions season. If you have any questions about the test-free program, please contact Director of Admissions Leslie Ticktin.