Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Elite Colleges' Scramble to Enroll High SAT Scorers May Undermine Diversity

Found this story at InstaPundit today...
Elite colleges have been undermining their own efforts to diversify by giving much more weight to high SAT scores than they did before, according to an analysis of College Board data presented this morning at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association.

Over the past two or three decades, the share of freshman-class seats that elite colleges award to students with high SAT scores has risen significantly—and risen more quickly than the number of high scores, according to an analysis by Catherine L. Horn, an assistant professor of educational leadership and cultural studies at the University of Houston, and John T. Yun, an assistant professor of education at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The researchers examined the freshman classes entering the 30 highest-ranked institutions in the 2007 U.S. News and World Report annual college guide. SAT scores of entrants were available for 19 of the institutions. Of those, all but four enrolled classes in which more than 30 percent of the students had SAT verbal scores above 700, and more than half enrolled classes in which more than 50 percent of students had verbal scores over 700. In 1979, by contrast, just one of the 30 institutions enrolled a freshman class in which more than 30 percent of the students had verbal scores above 700.

From 1989 to 2007, the researchers found, the share of entering freshmen with SAT verbal scores above 700 rose from 33 percent to 78 percent at Yale University, from 24 to 67 percent at Stanford University, from 9 to 54 percent at the University of Pennsylvania, and from 18 to 68 percent at the University of Chicago.

Of the 74,000 students nationwide who earned SAT verbal scores above 700 in 2006, roughly 25,000 enrolled in one of the 30 institutions. The most prestigious of the 30 institutions, such as the members of the Ivy League, have always had large pools of high-scoring applicants, but the institutions now appear to be placing more emphasis on entrants’ SAT scores—a trend the researchers see as linked to the weight that U.S. News and other publications give to students’ SAT scores in judging selectivity for the publications’ college rankings.

Other institutions—such as the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and Wake Forest University—have experienced surges in the number of high scorers applying but also appear to be giving high scores more weight.

The researchers say that, by focusing so heavily on high scorers, the elite colleges they examined are ignoring promising minority students with lesser scores, increasing the competition for high-scoring minority students, and potentially “simply ‘pricing’ themselves out of the ‘market’ for a more diverse learning environment.” Especially among the most prestigious of the 30 institutions, it is hard to believe that putting less emphasis on high SAT scores would cause the institutions’ quality to suffer.
Well that's a story right there. These institutions should look for the best students. I'm not entirely convinced that you can decided merely from SATs or ACTs. I think it would be bad news to use that as a criteria. At the same time a person with high test scores is no guarantee that this student may remain elite. Though of course SATs & ACTs are used for a reaon, they work for people determining admissions standards.

Of course I can always see this as another way that young black men and perhaps other might effectively cancel themselves out of going to college if the main way they'll get into college is a high SAT score. I'm not saying it's unfair, but unfortunately there'll be students stressing themselves out over getting that top SAT score.

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