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Regents Seek Money for a New Test

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Citing findings that women consistently score lower than men on the nation's two major college-admissions tests, the New York Board of Regents has taken steps to create an examination that could replace those tests as the basis for awarding state-funded college scholarships.

The Regents voted unanimously on March 21 to ask Gov. Mario M. Cuomo and the state legislature for $100,000 to develop the exam.

Neil Foley, the Governor's deputy secretary for education, said the request would receive "serious consideration.''

The board acted after receiving complaints from the New York Public Interest Research Group and FairTest, two advocacy groups, that the Scholastic Aptitude Test and the American College Testing Program exam are biased against women.

They reported that of the 1,000 Empire State Scholarships awarded this year on the basis of S.A.T. and A.C.T. scores, 67 percent went to males and 27 percent to females. The scholarships, worth up to $10,000 over five years, are awarded annually to 1,000 high-school seniors. (See Education Week, March 18, 1987.)

The groups also found that more than half of the state's 25,000 Regents Scholarships, which offer a smaller monetary award, went to men, even though more women competed for the grants.

The state department of education has proposed creating a 150-question achievement test for awarding scholarships, which would cover the subjects of English, social studies, science, mathematics, art, and music. It hopes to implement the test on an experimental basis this fall, said Donald Nolan, state deputy commissioner for higher and professional education.

John Weiss, executive director of FairTest, applauded the Regents for recognizing the "flawed'' nature of the college-admissions tests. But he said the state should "clean up the S.A.T.,'' instead of creating a new exam to put in its place. --LO

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