Phi Beta Cons

Performance Disparities

In an Inside Higher Ed article dealing with racial and ethnic equality in college achievement, David Harris, vice provost for the social sciences at Cornell University, asks why there has not been more attention paid by researchers to the unequal accomplishments in college by different ethnic groups.
Remarkably, Harris seems oblivious to the fact that most African American and Hispanic incoming freshmen at many American public universities have significantly lower standardized test scores than their white and Asian peers. For example, in the incoming freshmen class of 2001-02 at the University of Texas at Austin (see link here), Asian-American freshmen had a mean SAT score of 1257. For white incoming freshmen, the mean SAT score was1248; for Hispanics, it was 1129, and for African Americans it was 1069.
Consequently, it shouldn’t surprise anyone who believes that standardized test scores are a valid predictor of college performance that at the end of the 2001-02 school year, Asian-American freshmen at UT had a mean GPA of 3.15, the highest of all four major ethnic groups. The mean white freshman GPA that year was 3.11. For Hispanic freshmen, it was 2.89. For African-American freshmen, it was 2.64.
Harris’s commentary suggests that he is willing to consider any explanation for racial and ethnic disparities in college achievement except the validity of SAT scores.