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Merit and Social Selection: from social disparities by design to social disparities by default

Merit and Social Selection: from social disparities by design to social disparities by default

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Merit and Social Selection: from social disparities by design to social disparities by default

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  1. Merit and Social Selection: from social disparities by design to social disparities by default • Dr. Joseph A. Soares • Wake Forest University • soaresja@wfu.edu

  2. Rethinking admissions for a new millennium: moving past the SAT for social diversity and academic excellence, edited by Joseph A. Soares, Teachers College Press, June 2011 • Partial list of chapter authors: • Richard Atkinson, former President, University of California • Daniel Golden, Pulitzer Prize Winner for journalism on admissions • Thomas Espenshade, Princeton University, author of “No longer separate, not yet equal” • Charles Murray, Author of best-selling “Bell Curve,” Fellow at American Enterprise Institute • Robert J. Sternberg, Provost of Oklahoma State University; former Dean, Tufts University

  3. Rethinking admissions for a new millennium: moving past the SAT for social diversity and academic excellence, edited by Joseph A. Soares, Teachers College Press, June 2011 • Partial list of chapter authors: • Jay Rosner, Vice-President, Princeton Review. • Robert Schaeffer, Public Education Director, Fair Test. • Bruce Walker, Vice Provost and Director of Admissions, University of Texas at Austin. • Jeffrey Brenzel, Dean of Admissions, Yale University. • Jill Tiefenthaler, Provost, Wake Forest University. • Institutional studies from: • Johns Hopkins; University of California; University of Georgia; University of Texas; Wake Forest University

  4. Why should we care about high stakes testing? • Approximately 3 million youths graduate high school each year; over 2 million will attend college. Of those over 1.5 million will take the SAT. • Together, those test takers will support a 4 billion dollar test prep industry; a multi-billion dollar ETS test industry. • Scores will be used to rate high schools, real estate, the worth of individuals and their prospects in higher education. • The stakes and the costs, to individuals and to our society, are high.

  5. Why should we care about the educational and social effects of testing? • Test is not good predictive value for money: not a wise investment of time, effort, and money. • Distracts from learning subjects, sends wrong signal about what matters, doesn’t reward creativity, work ethic, or practical/leadership abilities. • The test reinforces social divisions: as NACAC report said, “test score appear to calcify differences based on class, race/ethnicity, and parental educational attainment.” 2008: 11.

  6. Wake Forest University Rethinks Admissions: two historical narratives • Mindful of two historical narratives about role of SAT in college admissions: best of all possible systems for selecting a test-taking meritocracy, the Harvard scholarship story, rise of meritocracy (Nicholas Lemann, The Big Test, 1999) • SAT as a type of IQ test that would select for the right stuff from the best gene pool, the Yale and Princeton story, social Darwinism disguised as academic merit (Joseph Soares, The Power of Privilege, 2007)

  7. Wake Forest University Rethinks Admissions: two libraries of research -- institutional studies and testing researchers • “Two major bodies of educational research have focused on the degree to which high school grades and standardized admissions test scores predict grade point averages …. The first has emerged from institutional research …. In a 2000 survey of 957 four-year institutions … high school GPA or class rank was rated as the most important factor … • “The second body of literature stems from the work of testing researchers …” Rebecca Zwick and Jeffrey Sklar, “Predicting College Grades and Degree Completion” American Educational Research Journal, Fall 2005: 42, 3, p. 439.

  8. Wake Forest University Rethinks Admissions: testing researchers divided between independent scientists and those in the pay of the testing industry • Model % of explained variance, or adjusted R-square in regression model, for first year college grades • HSGPA HSGPA With SAT • College Board 13 21 • Independent Scientists 20 22

  9. Richard Atkinson and Saul Geiser: rethinking admissions book • “Irrespective of the quality or type of school attended, cumulative grade point average (GPA) in academic subjects in high school has proved to be the best overall predictor of student performance in college. This finding has been confirmed in the great majority of “predictive-validity” studies conducted over the years, including studies conducted by the testing agencies themselves…”

  10. Even College Board reports HSG correlates best with college grades • 1985 example: • HSG correlation: .58 • SAT combined correlation: .47 • Multiple correlation: .64 • 2008 example: • HSG correlation: .54 • SAT-CR-M-W correlation: .53 • Multiple combined: .62 • “Analyses of the Predictive Validity of the SAT and High School Grades From 1976 to 1985,” No. 89-7, Table 5, p. 7. College Board No. 2008-5, Table 5, page 5.

  11. Wake Forest University Rethinks Admissions:historical background – private/public divide • Private colleges growing out of religious diversity, using subject or achievement entrance exams by 1900, and SAT aptitude test by 1926. • Public universities in a decentralized polity, from Land-Grant Acts, linked to public high schools, taking all high school graduates in a state, until ACT in 1950s, and SAT adoption by most in late 1960s.

  12. Why did the private sector switch from subject tests to aptitude tests? • Official College Board version: dramatic increase in college attendance between 1890 and 1922; colleges were “physically incapable of accommodating all …. One way out … is to limit enrolment …. To develop more adequate means for selecting” SAT Manual 1934: 3. • Unofficial version: fear of Jewish invasion spreading from Columbia, where Jews were 40% of students in 1924, to rest of Ivy League.

  13. Eugenics and Anti-Semitism at Yale in the first half of Twentieth Century • October 29, 1926 tables, marked “Confidential” in pencil. No author. • “Statistics” • Class of 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 • 1. Percentage of Jews. 10.4 13.3 9.9* 11.2 12. • 2. Percentage of 1. which are local residents. (New Haven, Bridgeport, Hartford, and vicinity.) 47.8 49.5 45.4 47.4 47.1

  14. Letter from Yale’s President to Admissions Dean, 1933 • “I am extremely interest [sic.] in the Hebraic record which you are kind enough to send me. … if we could have an Armenian massacre confined to the New Haven district, with occasional incursions into Bridgeport and Hartford, we might protect our Nordic stock almost completely.”

  15. Carl Brigham, The Creator of the SAT, Eugenicist, 1923 • “At one extreme we have the distribution of the Nordic race group. At the other extreme we have the American negro. Between the Nordic and the negro, but closer to the negro than to the Nordic, we find the Alpine and Mediterranean types”

  16. What if the SAT is a relatively weak predictor of college performance? • “as everyone knows, all correlations which have ever been found between examinations and college standing are too low to give any feeling of certainty. The low correlations … led people to try to [create] … a single index ... The Princeton ‘bogie’ and the Yale ‘predicted grade’ are typical of such combinations.” Brigham at College Board Oct. 1933

  17. Burnham in 1947, on Yale’s Formula, In Use Since 1930 • Approximate Equalized Weights in Prediction • FactorGroup AGroup IGroup 2 & 3 • SGA .70 .66 .50 • SAT .16 .16 .10 • 4 CEEB .14 .18 .40 • “We have been using multiple regression forecasting procedures to predict the freshman averages of applicant to Yale for a period of well over 15 years.”

  18. Yale’s Admissions Dean on School Grade PredictingBest College Performance “adjusted secondary school grade correlates reasonably well with college work. Indeed, the general finding of many years of research … is that the secondary school record, when properly handled, provides the best single indicator of potential success in college.”

  19. What use is a statistically weak SAT? • “The hard economic reality facing Harvard and many others is that 60% of their undergraduate matriculants must come from families which can from their own resources meet the … annual budget …. therefore the majority of students attending even the best endowed private institutions must be recruited from a narrow segment of the population.” • Arthur Howe in 1961 on the Economics of Yale, Harvard, Princeton

  20. Howe in 1962 on Top 5% • “We have adequate financial aid to provide what help is needed by approximately one-third of each entering class, … the remaining two-thirds of each class must be recruited from approximately the upper 5 per cent of American families in terms of income distribution.”

  21. What Yale’s Need-Blind Policy Produces • From 1964 to 2003, the average for all undergraduates on financial aid has been 40% (with a low of 37 and a high of 44, and the most frequent percentage being 38). The 40% prediction of Howe’s in 1963 was quite something.

  22. SAT sensitive admissions as a form of social selection: keeping the applicant pool and admit list affluent • The SAT’s weak predictive performance for college record was more than off set by its useful correlation with family income • HSGPA had only a weak correlation with family income, but it was always the best predictor of college grades

  23. Correlations of admissions variables with SES, and of HSGPA with SAT (Geiser and Santelices 2007; CB 2008) • Factors Family income Parents’ Ed • SAT-V .32 .39 • SAT-M .24 .32 • HSGPA .04 .06 • “HSGPA is correlated 0.21 to 0.25 with the three SAT sections” (CB 2008: 5) There is a higher correlation of SAT with family income than with HSGPA.

  24. Inflow Stratification: Percent of Each Higher Education Barron’s Group Occupied by Each SES Quartile % of Barron’s 1 of B2 of B3 of B4 of B5 of B6 of CC7 • SES quartiles: • Top 79 64 51 37 23 36 22 • Upper Middle 16 19 24 27 28 21 25 • Lower Middle 3 9 14 23 28 24 27 • Bottom 2 7 10 13 20 19 25 • Soares, Power of Privilege, Table 1.1, 4, Stanford University Press 2007.

  25. University of California research on SES and Tests • University of California Research on SAT, 2001 • Standardized Regression Coefficients for HSGPA, SAT I and SAT II Scores Before and After Consideration of SES • Without SES With SES • HSGPA .27 .28 • SAT I .07 .02 • SAT II .23 .24 • Family Income -- .03 • Parents Ed -- .06

  26. Richard Atkinson and Saul Geiser on SAT as proxy for SES • “correlations … can be misleading because they mask the contribution of socioeconomic and other factors to the prediction. … much of the apparent predictive power of the SAT actually reflects the proxy effects of socioeconomic status.” • Multivariate regressions that omit SES overstate contribution of SAT.

  27. Test score gaps, 2008 examples • Women scored 33 points lower on math than men. • Hispanics/Mexican Americans 219 lower than Whites on combined total. • African-American or Blacks 303 points lower than Whites on combined total. • White combined average score: 1583 • Each section of SAT is worth 800 points, for a perfect score of 2400

  28. What causes test score gaps?Demographics or test design? • “Supporters of the SAT who do not attribute performance disparities to genetic pools argue that these score gaps result from differences in wealth, income, parental education, or quality of schools attended. Critics of the SAT, while acknowledging these group differences in resources, argue that the SAT adds to the gaps because of its structure and content.” Jay Rosner, Rethinking Admissions, edited by Soares, Teachers College Press, forthcoming.

  29. The “actor’s bearing” Question:White or Black Preference? The actor’s bearing on stage seemed _____; her movements were natural and her technique _____ . (A) unremitting … blase (B) fluid … tentative (C) unstudied … uncontrived (D) eclectic … uniform (E) grandiose … controlled Source: Wall St. Journal, citing ETS

  30. The “dance company” Question:White or Black Preference? The dance company rejects ________, preferring to present only ________ dances in a manner that underscores their traditional appeal. (A) invention … emergent (B) fidelity … long-maligned (C) ceremony … ritualistic (D) innovation … time-honored (E) custom … ancient Oct. 1998 SAT, question #4, section 2V

  31. The “actor’s bearing” Question:Black Preference, with an 8 % Gap The actor’s bearing on stage seemed _____; her movements were natural and her technique _____ . (A) unremitting … blase (B) fluid … tentative (C) unstudied … uncontrived (D) eclectic … uniform (E) grandiose … controlled Source: Wall St. Journal, citing ETS

  32. The “dance company” Question:White Preference, with a 24% Gap The dance company rejects ________, preferring to present only ________ dances in a manner that underscores their traditional appeal. (A) invention … emergent (B) fidelity … long-maligned (C) ceremony … ritualistic (D) innovation … time-honored (E) custom … ancient Oct. 1998 SAT, question #4, section 2V

  33. Analysis of the October, 1998 SAT: How many Black advantage questions are on the test? • Total number of SAT math (60) & verbal (78) test questions: 138 • Query: How many black preference questions? White preference questions? • The number of black preference questions out of 138 is: 0questions • The number of white preference questions out of 138 is: 138questions

  34. Gender Preference Math Questions • 120 SAT math questions on the October, 1998 and the October, 2000 SATs. 3 were gender neutral. Of the 117 math questions that were either male or female skewed questions, only 1 (one) was a female question; the male-female answering percentage differences, or gaps, are not all tiny. In fact, they are quite substantial, ranging all the way up to 18%, with an average difference of about 7%.

  35. Does Social or “Statistical” Bias Drive Question Selection? • The College Board has believed since 1926 that IQ or college ability is distributed in the population according to a bell curve. • Questions are selected when they retain the shape of the bell curve from last year. • This notion of intelligence has been challenged most famously by Howard Gardner, Robert Sternberg, and James Flynn.

  36. Escape the bell curve: criterion referenced, not normed, tests • “Admissions tests should be criterion referenced rather than norm referenced: Our primary consideration should not be how an applicant compares with others but whether he or she demonstrates sufficient mastery of college preparatory subjects …” • Richard Atkinson and Saul Geiser

  37. Relative contribution of factors in predicting GPA • Model % of explained variance, or adjusted R-square in regression model • Without SAT With SAT • California, old SAT 20 24 • Georgia, new SAT 30 31 • WFU, both 28 31 • Johns Hopkins, new 18 20 • College Board, new 13 21

  38. What should be done? • Follow NACAC’s advice: take back the conversation out of the hands of the test industry. Colleges should do their own validity study. • If you find, like everyone including the College Board, that HSGPA predicts best, then step back from tests; signal that high school work matters most • Shift to subject or achievement tests, working with Common Core Standards movement to define college ready high school graduates

  39. Test-optional increases diversity and enhances academic excellence • Dr. Thomas Espenshade, Princeton University, ran simulations using Mellon Foundation data, and found that “test-optional” admissions increases one’s social and racial diversity while enhancing one’s academic standards, as measured by HSGPA and AP exams. (See Wake Forest’s home page for conference link.) • We get a “win-win” result: more social diversity, stronger students.

  40. Wake Forest University’s Test-Optional Application Pool and Yield 2009 & 2010 • WFU applications went up by 16% • Non-test submitters were 32-36% of applicant pool • African-American applications went up by 70% • Our 2009 “yield,” 1201 matriculating students were: 23% Black or Hispanic; 7% Asian; 10% first generation; 8% Pell Grant recipients; 75% from outside North Carolina; and 26% non-test submitters. • For fall of 2010 “yield,” 22% Black or Hispanic; 9% Asian; 11% first generation; 11% Pell Grants; 78% Outside NC; 28% non-test submitters. • Percent of students from top 10% of their high school class went up from 65% in 2008 to 75% in 2009, and up again in 2010 to 81%.

  41. Wake Forest University’s Test-Optional Cohort: Odds of being a non-submitter, 2009-10 • Looking at WFU student and the odds among them of being a non-test submitter (26%): • First generation students were 1.89 times more likely • Female were 1.64 times more likely than males • Minority youths were 1.54 times more likely than Whites • North Carolina youths were 1.44 times more likely • High financial aid need students were 1.23 times more likely than full pays to be non-submitters

  42. Wake Forest University’s Test-Optional Cohort Performance, 2009-10 • Year One of Test-Optional • Library usage went way up: 63% increase in personal research sessions; 55% increase in instructional library sessions; 26% increase in credited library instructional classes; daily average visits went up by 10%, from 1,765 to 1,939; daily unique library web sit visits went up by 62%, from 1,641 to 2,651. • Volunteers for student organizations went up. • Anecdotal evidence from faculty described class room discussions as more vibrant than before. • Student body more culturally diverse than before, more blue or spiky hair and creative clothes, more collegiate funk, less J Crew.

  43. Wake Forest University’s Test-Optional Cohort Performance: Retention and GPA, 2009-10 • In terms of retention rate, we had a 94% return of first year students to carry forward into a second year at Wake Forest before, and after we went test-optional. • We looked at the academic performance of non-test score submitters in comparison with test-score submitters for GPA.

  44. Wake Forest University’s Test-Optional Cohort GPA Performance, 2009-10 • For full-paying students, there is no difference in FYGPA between test-score submitters and non-test score submitters. • For high-need students (family contribution below $25thousand) there is no difference for FYGPA. • For low-need students (family contribution over 25k and less than 50K) from North Carolina, no difference. • For low-need students from anywhere in US but one region, no difference. • For low-need students from that one region, there is a difference. • There are 20 students for whom: test submitters (12) had an average GPA of 3.2 and non-test submitters (8) had an average GPA of 2.8 • At WFU a B+ starts at 3.33; B at 3.0; B- at 2.67; so all of the difference falls within the “B” grade range.

  45. Way Forward? • Test Optional • When tests are used rely on achievement- criterion-referenced tests, not bell curve norm-referenced tests • Tests aligned with college preparatory coursework in high schools • Signaling that hard work in school, not test prep, is key to success • De-escalate the rankings competition