We are ahead of the curve 3

At the SHC we are not (and have not for 8 years at least) using SAT scores for the purposes of admissions. Now the Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting on additional studies that say what other studies have noted long ago. Pursuit of high SAT scores in students will reduce diversity and will not fundamentally enhance the quality of students enrolled. More importantly, there are other, better ways to promote diversity than simply considering their ethnicity and race.

Researchers Accuse Selective Colleges of Giving Admissions Tests Too Much Weight – Chronicle.com

The reports’ authors argue that selective colleges do not necessarily have to consider applicants’ ethnicity and race to promote diversity. Rather, colleges could increase their enrollments of minority and low-income students simply by giving more weight to admissions criteria other than standardized-test scores.

I found this quote particularly interesting:

The researchers concluded that selective colleges created their own need to use race-conscious admissions policies to promote diversity by placing so much emphasis on standardized tests. “The apparent tension between merit and diversity exists only where merit is narrowly defined by test scores,” they argue.

We have certainly found this to be true in the two years that I have been dean. We are keeping a close eye on admissions figures and will do more data collecting this summer.


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3 thoughts on “We are ahead of the curve

  • Drew

    The only predictor of compentence in post-secondary education that SAT scores yield is performance on other standardized tests. So with careers such as nursing where NCLEX scores determine if you are going for your RN it still works for program admission. But we have known for years that SAT and GRE scores are problematic for admission criteria. But change is a slow animal in higher ed and let’s face it, ETS doesn’t really want us to!

  • Steve

    Okay, so this comment is perhaps more directed at Drew than at Chris, but…

    What other ways does a school (SHC, or anywhere) have to measure what a prospective student knows, and how well that student learns?

    I suppose one could look at transcripts, but at best it doesn’t’ allow for cross set comparison, and at worst, it fails to accurately provide any information.

    In a selection process, one needs to be able to compare, say, Chris to Drew. If I only have one slot left, how do I determine which of the two of you are more likely to succeed? Let’s say, for the sake of argument that both of you have identical GPA’s, but from two different schools. Are both schools the same? Did you cover the same material? Was grading done the same? This of course, gets more complicated if, say, one of you has a slightly higher GPA. Does that indicate anything in the cross-set comparison?

    As I mentioned, at worst we get very little information about the student. Without an in-depth knowledge of the school from which they come, and ideally the specific instructors/teachers they had, we cannot infer much by their grades. Did one instructor grade harshly, while another applied mis-directed compassion? Perhaps there was pressure from an administration to increase “graduation rates” at their school, or conversely it is possible one school had a more restrictive grading scale. It’s fairly common for one HS to grade 80-89 as a B, while another grades a B as 86-93.

    So–barring a nation-wide attempt to standardize instruction, or even more challenging, document the experience in every classroom in the nation, how does a school effectively make useful quantitative (i.e. measurable) comparisons and assessments of ability and performance?

    Drew? Chris?

  • Looney

    Interesting. Silicon Valley is the SAT cram school capital of the universe. The parents are constantly exchanging data on the things which are most likely to increases chances of admission, so they will probably adapt to any shift in admissions policies within a calendar year, if not earlier. I have two kids in UCLA and one just finishing UCSD, so I have involuntarily become one of the official neighborhood parental consultants on these matters. Given UC’s attempts at diversity engineering, the parents are planning carefully for charity programs and other activities to balance out the grades and SAT scores.

    One UC method is to take the top 5% from each high school. Some parents respond by keeping their kids in a tough academics district until 9th grade, then moving to an easy district where the kids are likely to come out on top of the high school grades. My favorite ploy is the millionaire family with no US based income who apply for admissions as a single-parent, hardship case.