The Academic Senate recently hosted its first annual “Rethinking the SAT” conference. Our own Chancellor Henry Yang sponsored the Associated Students Office of the External Vice President so 20 students could attend this conference. Throughout the weekend, we were given an incredible amount of information about the predictive validity of the SAT, the correlation of the SAT with socioeconomic factors and race in communities – a lot of statistics and data.
It was interesting to sit back and observe the way in which the scholastic world views students. Students were looked at more like units, like machines that were tested every so often and included in pools of eligibility. The human experience was never addressed during this conference. We were machines, not students.
As I sat there, listening to various scholars go on and on about race, gender and social stratification in regards to the SAT I, I realized there was no way they would be able to make social change in the higher education system. It would have to come from us, the students.
It was interesting to observe the attendees of the conference, speak with one scholar or another and ultimately receive the same academic language from each and every one of them. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not downplaying the academics; they are admirable and a crucial part to making this system work. But I am coming to the realization that they are not the ones who can make change. They can give us data, statistics and do research, but we are the ones who have to take on the responsibility of changing the future of higher education.
It is imperative that the UC system match the demographics of college students with the demographics of the state. It is crucial the UC takes into consideration the communities that lack the resources and opportunities of Advanced Placement Courses and SAT Prep Courses when considering freshman applicants. It is extremely important we use comprehensive review in admissions rather than just an academic index. As of the last academic year, 70 percent of UCSB admissions were based solely on GPA and SAT scores. Do you see a problem here?
The SAT I has been proven to be culturally biased; its ability to predict the success of a college student is almost insignificant. President Atkinson stated, “The SAT I scores only tell a student that he or she scored higher or lower than his or her classmates. They provide neither students nor schools with a basis for self assessment or improvement.”
The fact is, a strong relationship exists between economic circumstance and SAT performance. As we learned this weekend, children with highly educated parents often score up to 146 points higher than children whose parents received little formal education. Students from low-income communities lack the academic resources and financial stability to receive the same GPA and SAT scores than students from wealthier communities.
So, is the UC system taking the necessary measures toward increasing diversity on our campuses? UC President Atkinson has made four admissions proposals recently: Eligibility in the Local Context, Dual Admissions, Comprehensive Review and making the SAT I optional. Are these elements the answer to diversity and multiculturalism in the UC system?
If the SAT I is made optional in the admissions process, what would replace it? Some have suggested a more regionalized standard test, or the SAT II subject tests. President Atkinson proposed replacing the SAT I with achievement tests: “Achievement tests are fairer to students because they measure accomplishment rather than promise; they can be used to improve performance; they are less vulnerable to charges of cultural or socioeconomic bias; and are more appropriate for schools.”
Education is a right, not a privilege. When I ran for external vice president for statewide affairs, I ran with the commitment to taking action and attaining access for everyone: access to a higher education, access to equal resources and access to a multicultural environment.
With the repeal of SP-1 and the adoption of Comprehensive Review, Associated Students will continue to work on admissions procedures very aggressively as time progresses. It is important that the student movement be educated, passionate and mobilized in the fight to create equal access to education. It cannot be done without us. The students united will never be defeated!
To learn more about the SATs, admissions and how to get involved, you can contact the Associated Students Office at 893-2566 or e-mail me at .
Eneri Rodriguez is the A.S. external vice president for statewide affairs.