Ending SAT May Hurt Minorities, Study Says

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Making admissions standards more attainable for minority students is not as simple as eliminating the SAT requirement, concludes a recent study by the University of California.

The study followed a recommendation by the university's Latino Eligibility Task Force to remove the SAT requirement as a way of increasing the enrollment of Hispanic students, who generally perform lower on the college-entrance exam than most other racial and ethnic groups. Currently, all UC students must meet a minimum SAT score and grade point average to be considered for admission.

But by using grade point average alone, the study says, the number of students who would gain preliminary eligibility would jump to 18.7 percent of the state's graduating high school seniors--well beyond the 12.5 percent goal the nine-campus university system was designed to accommodate.

If admissions officials raised the grade requirement--from 3.3 to 3.65--to help scale back the pool of eligible students, the eligibility of Hispanic students would increase only slightly, from 3.8 percent of Hispanic high school graduates to 4 percent, according to the study.

The eligible proportion of African-American graduates, meanwhile, would decline from 2.8 percent to 2.3 percent.

"There has been no firm evidence that discarding the SAT would improve the eligibility of any one group of students," said Keith Widaman, who heads the committee that determines the university's basic admissions requirements. "There is no sentiment on my committee to stop using the SAT."

'Holistic' Admissions

Eugene Garcia, the former chairman of the task force that originally proposed dropping the sat, said the report does not negate his panel's recommendation.

University officials should eliminate the SAT without raising grade requirements and allow admissions officers to sift through a greater number of applications, accepting students through more "qualitative measures," he said.

"What you want to do is eliminate the SAT as a high-stakes test," Mr. Garcia argued. "Do [admissions] through a more holistic process. You're more likely to end up with a diverse class because the SAT discriminates."

University of California officials have been looking for ways to maintain student diversity on campus since the system's board of regents voted in 1995 to eliminate racial preferences in admissions.

Hispanic students constitute 13 percent of the university's undergraduate enrollment. Whites make up 40 percent, Asian-Americans 30 percent, blacks 4 percent, and other students 13 percent.

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