UC regents, faculty debate SAT
- Subject: UC regents, faculty debate SAT
- From: George Sheridan <learn@JPS.NET>
- Date: Wed, 13 Mar 2002 21:58:47 -0800
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UC regents, faculty debate SAT as admission tool
By Terri Hardy -- Bee Staff Writer
Published in the Sacramento Bee Wednesday, March 13, 2002
SAN FRANCISCO -- Eliminating the SAT as an admission tool for University of
California campuses and replacing it with a new test will be costly,
time-consuming and perhaps impractical -- not to mention a major upheaval.
Some UC regents and faculty members wonder if it's worth it.
"We are about to embark on a disruptive, costly process, and we're not
certain what the outcome is going to be," UC Regent George Marcus told the
other regents. "There has to be a better, easier way."
But UC faculty representatives, as well as UC President Richard Atkinson,
aren't so sure. They said revamping the admissions system by creating a new
admissions test focusing on achievement over aptitude will be worth the
effort and allow the university to better predict which students will be
Most important, they said, is the message the controversial step will send.
"We're telling high school students that taking (college preparatory)
courses is important," Atkinson said, "(that) if they master those courses,
they will do well on UC's entrance exam."
Currently, the majority of students take the SAT I, an aptitude test of
verbal and math reasoning. "That exam has no relationship to what they
study in high school," Atkinson said.
He and a faculty group are proposing a curriculum-based exam in place by
the fall of 2006 that would include reading, writing and mathematics. In
addition, students would take two single-subject exams of their choice --
similar to the SAT II tests now taken by UC applicants.
The result could be improved academic preparation of students, said Eva
Baker, a testing expert from the UCLA Graduate School of Education &
While many regents seemed willing to continue the discussion of the test
change at subsequent meetings -- with no decision until July at the
earliest -- serious concerns were raised.
Foremost was practicality. Regents and some testing experts at the meeting
wondered if a new test would be accepted by out-of-state colleges or the
California State University system. Some said a test that is based on what
students learn would be criticized because instruction at some high schools
is more rigorous than at others.
Matthew Malkan, associate professor of physics and astronomy at UCLA,
blasted the proposal, saying that eliminating the SAT I would erode UC
academic standards and is not feasible.
"A satisfactory replacement will not be possible in 2006 -- if ever,"
Major testing companies that produce the ACT and the SAT admission exams
say they can compile workable tests. Atkinson made waves in the academic
world when he proposed in February 2001 to do away with the SAT I -- a test
relied upon by admissions offices in 90 percent of four-year colleges. He
criticized the test as a poor indicator of a student's success and biased
against poor students who can't afford test preparation.
Early this year, a UC faculty group that looks at educational policy -- the
Board of Admissions and Relations With Schools -- endorsed Atkinson's plan.
It based its decision in part on a statistical study that the SAT I is no
better a predictor of student success than the single-subject SAT II tests.
BOARS chairwoman Dorothy Perry told the regents that UC reliance on the SAT
I was not based on any well-thought-out principles, but was a simple way to
sort out large numbers of applicants.
Marcus and other regents suggested that UC hone its use of SAT II tests
instead of overhauling the admissions exam.
Atkinson flatly rejected the suggestion.
"It's just not enough," he said.
The Bee's Terri Hardy can be reached at (916) 321-1073 or email@example.com.
Black Oak Mine Teachers Association, CTA/NEA
Garden Valley, California
"Intelligence, in short, is not a thing but a behavior. It is not something
we possess but something we do."
From a forthcoming book by Evans Clinchy
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