University of California Chancellors Bow Out of National Merit Scholarships
University of California chancellors said last month they are bowing out of the National Merit Scholarship program, citing concerns that the selection process is unfair (see Black Issues, June 2).
The officials took issue with the way the program uses PSAT results — the practice test for the SAT — to screen applicants.
“This decision in no way indicates that we don’t value academic merit at the University of California. The issue is how academic merit is defined,” says UC Provost M.R.C. Greenwood, the highest-ranking academic officer in the 10-campus system, one of the largest in the country.
Faculty challenged the merit scholarships earlier this year, saying the PSAT was not designed to be used as a cutoff tool, and calling the selection process unfair to low-income students and some minorities, who on average score lower than Whites on standardized tests.
Scholarships funded by the National Merit Scholarship Corp. or by businesses will not be affected. The University of California will honor merit scholarships already awarded, including those for students entering this fall.
The PSAT is taken by more than a million high-school juniors each year. About 50,000 of the highest scorers are eligible for the merit awards. Other criteria such as essays, grades and letters of recommendation are used to select winners.
— Associated Press
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