Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

The As-Usual Ignored Questions


There’s a long article in The Chronicle of Higher Education today about two studies showing that the allegedly “excessive weight” given SAT scores by the admission offices of elite colleges is “complicat[ing] their pursuit of diversity,” meaning the admission of more blacks and, to a lesser extent, Hispanics. The solution: Give less weight to SAT scores.

First of all: This is not exactly news. Everyone knows that these groups perform less well on the SAT, and so people who want schools to get their numbers right have been complaining about their using the SAT for years. The twist is that, despite all this politically correct pressure, the reliance on the SAT may actually be increasing.

Anyhow, there are two obvious questions posed here, one of which is completely unaddressed by the article, and the other only in briefest passing. (1) If the SAT helps colleges select the most qualified students, isn’t it problematic for them to stop using it? And (2) specifically, isn’t it racial discrimination if schools choose selection criteria, not simply on the basis of which ones select the best students, but also on the basis of which ones yield a particular racial and ethnic mix?

All the article says with regard to the first question is that, according to one of the studies, “shifting to admissions policies based on class rank would not hurt graduation rates.” But there are graduates and there are graduates. The answer to the second question — the one that is not addressed at all — is, “Yes.” If the shoe were on the other foot, and schools decided to ratchet up their reliance on class rank because it would help keep down the number of Asians and Jews, wouldn’t that be discrimination? Oh, wait, the shoe is on that foot.


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