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N.A.A.C.P. Launches Effort To Boost Blacks' Test Score

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In an attempt to narrow the gap between the achievement-test scores of black and white students, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has launched a pilot program aimed at preparing disadvantaged black students for the types of standardized tests required for college admission.

The program, which began earlier this month, is serving about 35 high-school students from the New York City area and is scheduled to expand to the San Francisco area in the fall, according to Susan P. Pierce, project coordinator for the NAACP.

Students enrolled in the program are charged $12 for the seven-week course and, according to Ms. Pierce, the sessions are held twice a week.

"We are attempting to offer a refresher course and a strategy for taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the American College Test (ACT)," Ms. Pierce explained. Most public schools do not offer SAT preparation as part of their program, and most black students in the public schools cannot afford the price of commercial coaching clinics, she said.

In 1981, the College Board, which administers the SAT, reported that 40 percent of the black students taking the exam scored 350 or better on the verbal section, and 49 percent scored 350 or better on the mathematics section--compared with 82 and 88 percent, respectively, for white students. The results of the ACT test were similar.

Despite some improvement in the performance of black students on standardized tests, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) early this year approved a new rule requiring freshmen athletes to have a combined score of at least 700 on the SAT or 15 on the ACT. The NAACP and black educators opposed the new rule because of the standardized-test requirement. (See Education Week, Jan. 19, 1983)

Ms. Pierce said, however, that the NAACP had proposed a test-preparation clinic prior to the athletic association's rule change. But the NCAA's action helped to stimulate financial support for the NAACP project, she said. The New York City program, according to Ms. Pierce, is being supported by a grant from the New York Community Trust, a local foundation.

Ms. Pierce said that the College Board helped develop the program and that the NAACP is seeking additional funding. "There is some evidence that advance training can have an effect and raise test scores," she said.

Through the program, according to Ms. Pierce, the organization hopes to develop a "greater understanding of the misuses of the test and the removal of racial biases."

Eventually, she said, the program will serve about 500 high-school students in metropolitan areas with sizable black populations and an active NAACP branch.

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