Eureka! Here’s One Way To Guarantee Diversity In College Admissions: Eliminate Objective Standards

Oh, it can’t be you! It’s always the test.

A group of students, advocacy groups and a primarily black and Hispanic California school district filed suit against the University of California last week,  alleging that  the SAT and ACT college admission tests discriminate  against black and Hispanic students and demanding that the school stop using standardized test scores in its admissions process.

The theory that the tests are biased against poor and mainly black and Hispanic students concludes that the system illegally discriminates against applicants on the basis of their race, wealth or disabilities, thus denying them equal protection under the California Constitution. This battle has been fought before, of course. There was a time, decades ago, when foes of standardized testing could point to test questions referring to yachting and Western philosophers, baking in a bias that handicapped students fromracial and ethnic  sub-cultures in America. Those prejudicial questions have been purged, but the long-time disparity between the test scores of white and Asian applicants on one side and black and Hispanic students on the other continues.

Even as the ACT and SAT have evolved from the  aptitude tests of nearly a century ago to  tests of the kinds of skills and concepts necessary for college work, a stubborn gap remains. In California, where more than 260,000 California students who graduated from high school in 2018 took the test, 44% of white students and 53%  of Asian-American students scored a combined score of at least 1200. Only10% of African-American students and 12% of Hispanic students achieved that level.  Why? It must be the tests. What about the tests? Nobody knows, but they must be discriminatory, because if they were not, there wouldn’t be any significant difference in how the groups score. That’s the comforting narrative.

The makers of the ACT and SAT responded to the filing of the lawsuit by insisting  that the plaintiffs were disingenuously blaming the tests for inequality in society and education. “The notion that the SAT is discriminatory is false,” said a spokesman for the College Board, which administers the test. Marten Roorda, chief executive of ACT, added: “It is inappropriate to blame admissions testing for inequities in society. We don’t fire the doctor or throw away the thermometer when an illness has been diagnosed. Differences in test scores expose issues that need to be fixed in our educational system.”

That seems logical, but that’s not how the overwhelming majority of social justice activists choose to think about inequality of results; to them, it’s never the individual’s fault. The plaintiffs want college admissions to be based primarily on grades and teacher recommendations, despite the fact that the former vary widely among teachers, schools and communities, and the latter have little credibility and never have. Some systems have gone to systems in which students do not have to submit standardized test scores, but the lawsuit would even eliminate that option.

One point the law suit makes is valid, and should be addressed, though eliminating the SAT and ACT tests are a foolish way to address it. The suit argues that the use of standardized tests has created a test-prep industry that gives an unfair edge to families who can afford to pay for special, test-focused tutoring. I agree: ban the prep tests. Require students to certify that they have not paid for special prep courses; declare such courses cheating, Weight multiple test-taking so it lowers scores. Another option is for the state to certify the prep courses, and require them to disclose the names of students who have paid for that advantage. Add a factor to scoring that reflects the fact that a student has paid for tutoring.

Unfortunately, past experience suggest that this won’t significantly change the gap between the scores of Asians/whites and blacks/Hispanics: the disparity continues through all socio-economic levels. Rich black and Hispanic kids still do much worse on the tests than rich white and Asian kids, but at least regulating the prep courses will eliminate some of the excuses.

There will be more to come, however; that should be obvious by now. We have been told that requiring standard English is racist, that mathematics is racist, grades are racist, meritocracy is racist, checking criminal records is racist, and punishing criminals is racist. Eventually, colleges and universities will be told that any procedure that does not guarantee admission to any minority student who applies—it’s also racist to charge them tuition—is racist. It is far easier to get society to accept these self-serving fantasies than taking on the tough job of changing cultures that undermine the ability of children to learn, achieve, compete and succeed while taking responsibility for developing positive habits and values rather than destructive ones.

 

20 thoughts on “Eureka! Here’s One Way To Guarantee Diversity In College Admissions: Eliminate Objective Standards

  1. No, don’t ban test prep courses.

    You might as well declare batting practice is cheating.

    Test prep courses reveal a simple sad truth: the tests don’t show what they purport to show. They are just another game, but they want to pretend They are not.

    And, the economic argument by the progressives is misplaced. I have never taken a prep course.* But, while preparing for the LSAT, I purchased prep software (completely useless to me, as test-taking on a computer was disconcerting) and bought, borrowed, or stole a Princeton test prep book. Working through that book probably increased my score quite a bit. But, I worked through it diligently and had the added fortune of a strong background in Logic.

    In other words, a $40 investment in a used test prep book can even the playing field so to speak.

    *excepting the Bar Exam prep course. But, considering the comparative cost of law school, the cost of that course is nominal

    -Jut

    And

  2. Heh. So they basically want to turn a college degree into a participation trophy.

    Seems right in line with their values to me.

  3. I’m not convinced the test prep books make a huge difference at the SAT level as lessens stress with the unfamiliar. Repeats help with that too. If you don’t have training in logic (they did not offer that in my school) the test phrasing reeks of trickery. My mother took a standardized test in her 40s and she simply had little exposure or training to decipher the phrasing. Test-taking is a skill, not the material when phrased in a straightforward way. I learned enough of that artificial skill I could get a 60% in a skill area I had no training in. (Insurance) My public school had a short SAT prep class for juniors to give tips mostly, but I think a simple vocabulary class would help as much. Later, in a bookstore, I could compare the different books and saw they did more to sooth than actually teach much.

    I think banning the classes and books is pointless. The trick phrasing is not a useful skill for many people and the investment doesn’t mean much if the student is unmotivated or cannot learn. School systems are far too divergent to not require some kind of testing for placement. It should be no more moral or social weight than a drown proofing or drivers’ test. This will force California colleges to do some pretzel twisting to make sure some helicopter darling who cannot do classwork take up a seat at Stanford. What will the flunkout rate become and will the graduation rate drop to nothing?

    The rebuttal from the test-taking companies was on point. We need some way to compare public education vs private vs homeschooled. If anything, perhaps we need standardized tests on American history and civics at the HS and middle school level, because those are sorely lacking. (I’d bet those asian immigrants at Harvard would ace them too)

  4. The biggest problem in this obsession with obtaining diversity on university campuses is that the number of black and Latino students who will graduate with a degree is significantly lower than white/Asian students. This especially especially applies in the STEM fields. Eliminating the SAT and ACT tests will do nothing about this. The old system in which community colleges admitted every student that applied regardless of low college admission test scores and offered remedial classes in math and English to those students that needed them was a good solution.

    • Texas A&M will accept any and every student. Test scores do not matter. All you have to do is make the deadline for completing the application. After that, you cannot be admitted, they say.

      Test score are also being deprecated there.

  5. As my good law school buddy said in the late ’70s: “If they’re going to make the SAT easier for black kids, they’re going to have to make it harder for Chinese and Jewish kids.”

    Again, the progressive mantra can be summarized as: “If you can’t compete in the game, petition to change the rules.”

  6. “…ban the prep tests. Require students to certify that they have not paid for special prep courses; declare such courses cheating, Weight multiple test-taking so it lowers scores. Another option is for the state to certify the prep courses, and require them to disclose the names of students who have paid for that advantage. Add a factor to scoring that reflects the fact that a student has paid for tutoring.”

    Impossible to enforce, I would guess. Better, maybe, to boost the tools available for everyone at the school level to familiarize students with what they will face in the testing. This might benefit some by putting them at ease with the procedure, but would still largely be window-dressing, and have little/no effect on the overall outcome statistics. If you read at a third grade level, have never had a book in your home that’s headed by an uninvolved single parent, you likely won’t test well under any circumstances, and certainly won’t be ready for college.

    And

  7. A group of students, advocacy groups and a primarily black and Hispanic California school district filed suit against the University of California last week, alleging that the SAT and ACT college admission tests discriminate against black and Hispanic students and demanding that the school stop using standardized test scores in its admissions process.

    These are absolutely false claims of discrimination that are derived from the false magical thinking’s of ignorant progressive/socialists that have been trying to brainwash children in our society into believe their false utopia that dictates equality of outcomes NOT equality of opportunity – this is self evident. This is the kind of shit that progressives/socialists have been brainwashing into the minds of students and the people who are teaching them this are the real RACISTS!

    Yes, the United States has been in the process of being dumbed down for many years. It started rather “innocently” with ignorant parents, coaches, and school systems elevating feelings of children above accomplishment by issuing participation trophies et al.

  8. There will be more to come, however; that should be obvious by now. We have been told that requiring standard English is racist, that mathematics is racist, grades are racist, meritocracy is racist, checking criminal records is racist, and punishing criminals is racist. Eventually, colleges and universities will be told that any procedure that does not guarantee admission to any minority student who applies—it’s also racist to charge them tuition—is racist. It is far easier to get society to accept these self-serving fantasies than taking on the tough job of changing cultures that undermine the ability of children to learn, achieve, compete and succeed while taking responsibility for developing positive habits and values rather than destructive ones.

    If everything is racist, then….

    …why not embrace racism? How can racism be bad if all the things listed above are racist?

    Was the Civil Rights campaign a mistake?

  9. SAT and ACT test preparation is available to most people for free 24/7. Every public library in my state has access to Learning Express. Included is free test preparation for these tests as well as the ASVAB and professional tests. In addition there are academic skill building areas for pre-K through college. The user still has bother to study. When prepping for grad school entrance exam I borrowed the prep book from the public library and did quite well on the exam.

  10. The SAT has been dumbed down (not just de-racialized*) several times

    My 1980s score of 1350 is now around a 2000, I am told. I got free study guides (we were poor) and we sprang for a test emulator ($35 at the time) that ran on my old VIC 20, a ‘computer’ that many refrigerators can run circles around today. (5 kb of RAM memory standard -not MEG or GIG, that is ‘kilobytes’- 8 bit processor, and the grounding plane was tin foil coated cardstock)

    I took a LOT of simulated tests, and the program explained the questions I got wrong. I was also taught to guess, never leaving any questions unanswered. A ‘miss’ was worth a fraction of a point, you see.

    Ambition matters.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.