A faculty committee at the University of California recommended last week that the state the nation”s leading user of the Scholastic Aptitude Test phase out its use of the SATs for college admissions. Instead, California wants to replace the SAT by 2006 with a new test that would be more reflective of what it believes California students should be learning. The hope is that the new exam will be a better judge of students” intelligence than the SAT. California is commendably leading the way in a long overdue overhaul of the college admissions process.

The SAT is largely a test of a students” ability to take the SAT. The best method of preparing for the SAT is to simply practice taking the SAT a clear indication that it does not measure any sort of inherent intelligence.

If students are members of the middle or upper class, then they likely attended schools with strong curriculums and an awareness of the SAT”s weight as a reflection upon the school district. Socioeconomically advantage students also are far more likely to have been able to afford the test preparation classes that promise score improvements of many tens of points.

However, students who were not able to attend well-funded, standardized test-conscious secondary schools and could not afford to take the test logically tend to score worse than their middle and upper-class peers. Because the college admissions process places such importance on the scores of tests, many of these students are prevented from attending more competitive schools for reasons far beyond their control.

SATs have been proven to tip the scales in favor of white, middle class students. It is time that the University of Michigan follow California”s lead and eradicate SAT scores from the admissions process.

This issue has become especially relevant to this university with regard to the affirmative action lawsuits pending against it. On Jan. 24, 2001, Jay Rosner, executive director of the SAT test-prep service The Princeton Review testified that the SATs are biased toward white students. Later, on Feb. 6, Emory University Prof. Martin Shapiro all spoke of these flaws, adding that “the attack on affirmative action makes all of this relevant and important again.

If the University wishes to continue its professed commitment to diversity it needs to recognize that its own admissions process is working against that very goal.

With both California”s decision to eliminate the use of SATs in the application process and the affirmative action trials hanging over the University, it is time that the University and all Michigan schools reconsider the importance that they place upon tests empirically proven to be biased and useless as predictors of undergraduate success.

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