Monday, April 30, 2018

Vox Popoli: Test-optionality (How elite universities manipulate admissions)

That's one way to avoid the merit-based IQ showdown that is looming at the elite universities. Get rid of the tests:

There are now well over 1,000 colleges and universities that don't require SAT or ACT scores in deciding whom to admit, a number that's growing every year. And a new study finds that scores on those tests are of little value in predicting students' performance in college, and raises the question: Should those tests be required at all?

Colleges that have gone "test optional" enroll — and graduate — a higher proportion of low-income and first generation-students, and more students from diverse backgrounds, the researchers found in the study, Defining Access: How Test-Optional Works.

"Our research clearly demonstrates that these students graduate often at a higher rate," said Steve Syverson, an assistant vice chancellor at the University of Washington Bothell, and co-author of the study.

"When a college considers going test-optional, one of the first reactions that people, including alumni, feel is that the college will be admitting less qualified students," he added. Syverson says the study should reassure admissions officials who've decided to go test-optional.

Syverson and his team of researchers studied 28 public and private institutions that no longer require test scores, and tracked about 956,000 individual student records.

Students like Ian Haimowitz, a sophomore at George Washington University, a test-optional school in Washington D.C.

He says in the beginning, he felt like a fish out of water.

"I know for a fact I'm the first Nicaraguan-American, the first Latino, the first Jewish Latino that a lot of kids meet," he says.

He adds that when he arrived at GW, he looked around and asked himself, "What am I doing here with kids who went to private schools and got the best education possible?"

It was a very different world than he grew up in back in New Mexico.

"I remember my freshman year of high school, I didn't have a math teacher. Maybe that's why you see in my test score that I didn't have a good grounding in math. But I believed my potential was still there."

Ian was a straight-A student in high school, but his SAT scores were so low he didn't think any top tier school would accept him. He says not having to submit his test scores opened the doors to a top selective school.

We can safely expect the Ivy League schools to try to get rid of objective testing as soon as possible, before it becomes obvious that there have been some very heavy thumbs on the admissions process at all of their institutions.