Report Says Eliminating Weight of SATs Will Offer Minorities More Access to College
How can colleges and universities ensure minorities have access to higher education without using affirmative action? The solution, according to two sociologists, is quite simple: Eliminate the SAT. In a new study, Dr. Sigal Alon of Tel Aviv University in Israel and Dr. Marta Tienda of Princeton University say that eliminating the weight of college entrance exams and using a full-file review to select students using performance-based measures of merit — such as class rank, extracurricular activities and students’ background and circumstances — will improve campus diversity.
“The ‘tension’ between test scores and diversity motivated us to show how affirmative action was required because the weight placed on test scores in admission decisions, especially at selective institutions, rose over time,” says Alon, lead author of the study. In their study, “Diversity, Opportunity and Shifting Meritocracy in Higher Education,” which appeared in the August 2007 issue of the American Sociological Review, the writers found that colleges have increasingly based admissions on test scores, creating the need for affirmative action for minorities who tend not to do as well on those tests. Alon and Tienda analyzed data from two national surveys, “High School and Beyond” and “The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth,” to track students in their college admissions process and examine the likelihood of their admission using both standardized tests and class rank.
They also looked at data from Texas Higher Education Opportunity Projects and used the University of Texas at Austin to examine the impact on minorities’ admissions. “If we want to reach a state where we don’t need affirmative action, we need to confront and understand the mechanism restricting minorities the opportunity, and the SAT is one of them,” says Alon. If universities implement the suggested policy, he says, they will still enroll a diverse student population without compromising academic quality.
— By Margaret Kamara
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