Monday, January 14, 2008

UC Considering Lowering Standards In The Name Of Diversity

In 2006, voters in Michigan struck down racial preferences, as did Californians and Washingtonians a decade earlier. Up to five states will have that opportunity this year if proposed initiatives in those states qualify for the ballot.

But a new move is afoot to try to circumvent the intent of those initiatives in higher education. Unsurprisingly, the University of California is leading the effort, but it could spell trouble for higher education everywhere...

Now a UC policymaking board is considering sweeping changes in the admissions process that threatens to lower standards for admission for all students in hopes it will boost admission of more blacks and Hispanics (Asians already account for about 40 percent of the students). This board proposes lowering the GPA required to 2.8 and dropping the requirement for students to take SAT II tests in at least two academic subjects, among other changes.

The effect will be to lower standards — and the ultimate aim is to erode support for any objective measures of academic achievement.

If adopted, this plan will have far-reaching impact. In the academic world, as California goes so goes the nation.

The diversity crowd has long sought to eliminate standardized testing as an important factor in college admissions because blacks and Hispanics, on average, do worse than whites and Asians on standardized tests. But standardized tests are the most objective way to measure students' academic qualifications against each other.

From the Washington Times.


Neko said...

"... as California goes so goes the nation."

Now there is a statement that always makes me shudder.

Darren said...

Me too, actually.

Fritz J. said...

So what they are saying is that they wish to lessen the value of a degree from their institution. After all, you can only go one of two ways when you lower standards. One is to set more people up for failure, and the other is to inflate grades to make it appear as though everyone is still succeeding. Since I have grave doubts that they will flunk more students after going to so much trouble to get them, that only leaves inflating the grades and making the degree worth less. Seems to me like the wrong way to go, and I know people like Dr. Thomas Sowell are against it.

allen said...

I wouldn't sweat it that much. This isn't the first time for "standards lowering".

Back when it was becoming obvious that affirmative action entrants were washing out at a much higher rate then non- there was some loose talk about an affirmative action "track" to ensure a higher percentage of affirmative action entrants graduated.

It's worth keeping in mind that the alumni is certain to be opposed to such a plan for practical as well as sentimental reasons. Lower academic standards and the value of the degree suffers. Then there are all the sentimental attachments and pride. Not too many people will want to claim graduation from a school that once had high standards.

Also, the less ideologically driven departments of the school aren't likely to sit on their hands while standards drop. You need a carefully-winnowed population of freshman if you expect to have top-notch post-grads to help you do your research, publish in the big journals and attract the big funding dollars. No winning the DARPA Grand Challenge with the top 10% of students from high schools that have a 70% drop-out rate.

Turns out there's a simpler solution: ignore them.

Sure, you spend a bunch of money on remedial classes and special tutoring services but when it comes right down to it there are just too many very good reasons to not establish an affirmative action track not the least of which is institutionalizing "the soft bigotry of low expectation" and, by implication, accepting the proposition that black students *can't* compete academically. A degree with "training wheels" may be worse then no degree at all.

Whoops. Looks like Fritz J. slipped in ahead of me.

History shows that the schools won't inflate grades to any important degree. At least not in the established departments. Too much riding on the outcome.

What the schools will do is create departments with esentially worthless degrees - black studies, women's studies, etc. If you opt for one of them you've bought into the tale. Good luck to you but the other departments, the ones in which there's competition for a reputation as rigorous and demanding, are safe.

Anonymous said...

They already lowered their standards. They went from taking the top 12.5% stastewide to taking the top 4% from each school. This decision was made immediately after passing an initiative that forbade using race as a factor in admissions, and was clearly designed to circumvent the voters' will. As a result, it's much harder for students with good, but not spectacular grades, to get into the better UCs, and much easier for mediocre students at bad schools. The ship has already sailed, I'm afraid.


Mrs. C said...

Howcome they always lump in "Asians" with whites? Because they do better on the tests, they're not a minority??


Darren said...

They're not minorities *this time*. But if lefties need them to be minorities, they they'll be minorities.

Ellen K said...

The State of Texas and the University of Texas implemented the "Ten Percent Rule" wherein any kid from any public high school who was in the top ten percent would be granted admission. So that meant my kids, with top twenty five percent rankings and 3.5 GPA's from a very competitive high school where AP classes were the norm were not accepted, while kids who scored a 940 on the SAT, but who were salutatorian of their senior class of 26, were admitted. I didn't see the sense then, I don't see it now. We either want the best and the brightest REGARDLESS of their background, or we only want to give lipservice to the idea of "the best and brightest".

Cameron said...

I don't know if you know this, but I'm very much against affirmative action. It's a dumb compensation. It's stereotyping. It's definitely not equality. I think the University should have about the same percentages of different ethnicities as the state, just because that seems to make sense.

As usual, however, the media gets stuff wrong. I didn't have to look up anything to know that the minimum GPA was changed from a 2.8 to a 3.0 when I was applying, so putting it back to where it was is hardly a "sweeping change".

Also, SAT II tests are ridiculous, believe me, but I don't know if they should be dropped outright. My relative have told me bad things about the Regents, but now, as a UC student, I can feel their evilness pervading throughout the campus.

So in short - I agree with this! You should be happy to hear that.

Darren said...

Cameron, your 5th sentence contradicts your first. I agree with sentences 1-4.

Cameron said...

I didn't mean that the University should intervene if the numbers don't match up. I just meant it makes sense that, assuming universities don't consider race, then when there is a small community (like a college) whose members are drawn from a larger one (the state), the percentages should be about the same. I guess that is assuming that all ethnicities are exactly equal in GPAs and test scores. I don't want to say otherwise for fear of being branded racist, but like the article says, whites and Asians perform better on standardized tests. Is it because they are generally wealthier and so brought up better?

Well, I've read studies about varying levels of intelligence in the world where the IQs of Asians are highest, then whites, then blacks and Hispanics. I never ever bring stuff up like that so as not to rub people the wrong way, even though it's just a statistical statement.

Darren said...

And *that*, Cameron, is what we call "political correctness". Welcome to my world.

Ronnie said...

Unless they have some plan to build a couple new campuses I don't see how lowering the standards does anything. Right now we have more students wanting to go to a UC than we have spaces, with only a 47.7% admission rate system wide.