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RTI’s Chris Bennett receives 2023 AERA Palmer O. Johnson Memorial Award for outstanding research article

The award-winning research examined test-optional policies as a way to improve equity in college admissions

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — RTI International’s Chris Bennett, Ph.D., has been honored by the American Educational Research Association (AERA) with the 2023 Palmer O. Johnson Memorial Award. Dr. Bennett, an education research analyst at RTI, received the award for his article “Untested Admissions: Examining Changes in Application Behaviors and Student Demographics Under Test-Optional Policies.”

“It is gratifying and humbling to receive this recognition from AERA,” said Dr. Bennett. “I look forward to building on this research, which I hope can help inform and ultimately improve the college admissions process and related policies.”

The article, published in the American Educational Research Journal in February 2022, examined a diverse set of nearly 100 private institutions that adopted test-optional undergraduate admissions policies between 2005-06 and 2015–16. It found that test-optional policies were associated with a 3% to 4% increase in Pell Grant recipients, a 10% to 12% increase in first-time students from underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds, and a 6% to 8% increase in first-time enrollment of women.

“We are honored to present this year’s awards to an excellent and deserving group of scholars,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “Their contributions to education research, across all career stages and fields, have made and continue to make a difference in the lives of students and educators.”

The award recognizes the lifelong achievement of Palmer O. Johnson as a dedicated educator and for his pioneering work in educational research and methodology.

Dr. Bennett was recognized alongside other award recipients at the AERA Awards Ceremony and Celebration at the 2023 AERA Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Learn more about 2023 AERA award winners