EWING — Although school officials say it was a front-burner discussion before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the fallout from the crisis has accelerated The College of New Jersey's plans to make the submission of standardized, college preparatory test scores optional on student applications beginning with the 2021-22 academic year.

"While the COVID pandemic was really a big reason why we're moving forward in this, we had been thinking about this for quite a few years," Lisa Angeloni, TCNJ vice president for enrollment management, said.

TCNJ now joins an ever-growing number of New Jersey colleges and universities, including Bloomfield, Drew, Kean, Montclair State, Princeton, and Rowan, which will not mandate the inclusion of the likes of SAT or ACT scores under certain circumstances. Coronavirus-related shutdowns caused many spring test dates to be canceled, with no clue as to when they will resume.

Angeloni said TCNJ will keep test submissions optional for three admission cycles, through admissions for the 2023-24 school year, as the college tries to more fairly evaluate students from diverse backgrounds within New Jersey and beyond.

"We're going to do an analysis and look at the data to see how the students are doing, and if we're making good admissions decisions on those candidates," she said. "There are such differences in high schools and communities, and by using standardized testing, it's not always fair to do that."

TCNJ is trying to examine students, according to Angeloni, in the context of why they are coming to the school and what they have done to get there, which are details a standardized test doesn't show. If officials believe they are still admitting the desired types of students at the end of the three-year pilot period, the college may eliminate accepting test scores altogether.

For now, though, Angeloni stressed that those submissions are still optional. Many colleges don't even want to see SAT or ACT results anymore, but TCNJ is not yet ready to take that step.

"A student can submit their scores, as well, so if they are exceptionally good standardized test-takers and they're proud of their scores, then they should go ahead and submit the scores," Angeloni said.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.