Academic Senate opts to endorse new test

    The S.A.T. I suffered another blow Tuesday when UCSD’s arm of the UC Academic Senate endorsed a plan calling for a new standardized admissions test for the University of California.

    UC President Richard C. Atkinson called for eliminating the S.A.T. I from the UC admissions process just over a year ago.

    The senate passed two resolutions, the first stating that it agrees that “”the S.A.T. I ought to be replaced”” with a unique test for admissions. However, the second insists that current proposals on that new test should be examined for problems and inconsistencies.

    Atkinson said in February 2001 that the test is not an accurate indicator of college success and does not measure actual high school achievement.

    “”Applicants for higher education should be assessed on the basis of their achievements in high school … not how they rate on an ill-defined measure of aptitude or intelligence,”” Atkinson said at an address before the American Council on Education.

    In November 2001, Atkinson further criticized the test, whose scores, he said, “”only tell a student that he or she scored higher or lower than his or her classmates.””

    The discussion at Tuesday’s meeting was in response to the Committee of Admission’s analysis of a report called “”The Use of Admissions Tests by the University of California.”” The UC Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools released the report in March.

    The B.O.A.R.S. report stated that studies have shown the S.A.T. I poorly predicts college achievement, and that high school GPA and S.A.T. II scores are more strongly correlated to freshman GPA.

    The key difference, according to the report, is in the respective values of measuring aptitude or achievement.

    “”Achievement exams are more suited to measuring mastery of the high school curriculum than exams designed to measure general intellectual aptitude,”” the report reads.

    The report stated that the new admissions test should reliably measure mastery of UC requirements and be highly predictive of college success.

    The test should be distinct from the S.A.T. I such that its creation and implementation is justified, as well as comparable to the S.A.T.s I and II in length, the study said.

    Another “”critical requirement”” of the report is the ability to translate the new test’s score into a roughly equivalent score on the S.A.T. I and A.C.T. Students applying to UC schools and non-UC schools not accepting scores from this new test would then not have to take expensive multiple tests.

    COA Chair Julian Betts said these three last points — the “”genuine newness,”” the length requirement and the ability to produce equivalent scores — are mutually inconsistent.

    “”You could pick any two of these three [to implement],”” Betts said, “”but achieving all three is probably impossible.””

    Another COA criticism of the B.O.A.R.S. report was on the timing of the implementation of the new test.

    B.O.A.R.S. recommended that it be implemented for students entering University of California in fall 2006. That would mean the test would most likely first be taken in fall 2005.

    Betts argued that this timeline was not feasible because that would give B.O.A.R.S. about three years to decide what curriculum the test should cover, find a company to write the test, test sample questions, and conduct field testing and norming.

    Finally, Betts expressed a desire for richer research about the predictive abilities of tests. Current data comparing S.A.T. I and S.A.T. II scores and high school GPA to “”college achievement”” measure that achievement only through freshman year. Betts said COA would like to see research involving second- through fourth-year GPAs, GPA at graduation, dropout rates, time to degree and whether students applied to graduate or professional school upon graduating.

    “”COA strongly endorses the rationale of having an admissions test and the characteristics of ideal tests [in the B.O.A.R.S. report], but we have some concerns about timing and things like that,”” Betts said.

    B.O.A.R.S. Vice Chair Barbara Sawrey was present at the meeting and said other schools, including California State University, have shown interest in the B.O.A.R.S. recommendations, and this may mean students applying to non-UC schools will still only have to take one test.

    “”We’re not going to have separate tests,”” she said. “”Very quickly, we’re seeing coalescence with what B.O.A.R.S. has presented.””

    The A.C.T., she said, is already closer to meeting the B.O.A.R.S. recommendations than the S.A.T. I, and the company that owns the A.C.T. is discussing with B.O.A.R.S. ways to change its test to suit the University of California.

    The College Board, the company behind the S.A.T., has also announced that it will be revamping its tests, though the level of its consideration of the B.O.A.R.S. recommendations is unclear.

    While some have advocated the elimination of the S.A.T. I because Caucasians tend to score better on it than minorities, Betts said the type of test the University of California is considering to replace the S.A.T. I would not change the racial makeup of the university.

    “”I just don’t see how any new test can substantially alter the number of underrepresented students here,”” Betts said. “”That’s not what this is about.””

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