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Why Test optional Admissions?


Replies to: Why Test optional Admissions?

  • retiredfarmerretiredfarmer Registered User Posts: 643 Member
    Many years ago I was familiar with a service provided by the CB where the university supplied the CB with the College GPA's each year and ran simple linear analysis of variance tests with math and verbal SAT scores as well as achievement scores (ACH) in math, physics and chemistry. This was a STEM university where most of the majors were studying some kind of engineering and the rest math, physics or chemistry. All possible variable data sets were run. In the end, the only tested relationships which showed significant relationships to the college GPA were HS GPA, Math SAT and Math ACH. The winning model was:

    College GPA= f(HS GPA, Math ACH)

    Only about 45% of the variance in first year students' grades could be explained by the model with 30% explained by the HSGPA and only 15% explained by the math ACH. (the MSAT was only 10%, but was "co-linear' with MACH). By the end of the second year, HSGPA dropped to about 20% and MACH to about 10% for a total of 30% in year two. By the third year, there was no significant relationship.

    Importantly, the HSGPA carries the most weight, but what else is happening here? Are "smarter" students loosing speed or are "slower" students tuning in? Whats up?

    I like to believe people are not defined by the SAT or even the HSGPA. Perhaps some have "learned how to learn."

    Not all schools fit all people. If one wants to learn how to learn there needs to be an individual match. SATs, ACTS, HSGPAs, and even the costs of college can obfuscate the central issue.

    Everyone needs to find their financial, academic and social fit, but I do not believe that all colleges are the same and that all people are the same and that all we need to look at is the major, the price tag and the admissions profile. "Don't waste your money" on the wrong school regardless of the price tag. Colleges cannot pay you back if you do not graduate with a purpose and a focus because you learned how to learn.

    If that happens, your life will be richer!

    (Sorry, got carried away!)
  • retiredfarmerretiredfarmer Registered User Posts: 643 Member
    edited June 11
    @gardenstategal Thank you for Jo Boaler reference. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3icoSeGqQtY

    Practicing for a standardized testing process to "get the right answer" reinforces the myth that some kids are now anointed as smart and the rest of us just can't do the subject, even with solid GPAs. Jo Boaler points out that there is room to grow within today's educational model. Our self-image plays a role.

    We need to follow the GPA/SAT evidence and focus more on construction of the actual educational programs. Some old misconceptions can hold students back. The damage caused by the "I can't do math" beliefs of many students has a lot in common with the damaged caused by a misapplication of "standardized" testing.

    Holistic admissions holds out opportunity for a large talent pool. A number from this talent pool may even think "outside the box."

  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 4,536 Senior Member
    @retiredfarmer , ^^She has an interesting (and impressive! ) personal history and has really done a lot of terrific work with teachers to teach them how to encourage kids to think mathematically. All very cool.

    As for the SAT/ACT thing, I think that kids who perform below a certain level probably will struggle with the material in college, so the attempt to correlate success with scores is a bit of a bogus test simply because the vast majority of the kids being studied have already flown over the critical hurdle. As you note, the real differentiator at that point is something else. (I have heard the same of tests administered for test-in high schools -- except for showing who is truly not going to be able to do the work, they are useless predictors of success. But they can be helpful in eliminating those destined to fail.) If those who were rejected had the benefit of an approach like Boaler's much earlier on, they too might have been prepared. In many ways, the aptitude at the end of high school is determined by how math is taught in elementary school. Most kids who are "naturals" will survive it, but the kids who actually need guidance to work it out often don't get it and are left behind. We are willing to invest in literacy but not numeracy. Nobody writes off kids because "maybe she's just not good at reading"!
  • retiredfarmerretiredfarmer Registered User Posts: 643 Member
    Many years ago when traditional STEM schools were going "COED" there was a real drought of girls interested in ma
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 4,536 Senior Member
    Yes, and they were actively discouraged. Mostly by their teachers, but also by their peers.

    Take a look at the stats for how many women are getting PhD in EE. The tide has yet to turn!
  • retiredfarmerretiredfarmer Registered User Posts: 643 Member
    Checked out one STEM school with 30 EE faculty and only three were women. One was mainstream American and the other two were from China and India, bur earned their PhD's stateside. There were eight freshly minted EE PhD graduates, but no women in the group.

    Curiosity drove me to look at the undergraduate enrollments. It does not appear to be a math issue. With only 37% of the student body women, 50% of the math majors were women, whereas only 24% of the physics majors are women. Interesting that sixty-six percent of the Biomedical Engineering majors were women. BE is basically ME with some EE and Chem Eng thrown in. The ME and EE fields are low on their interests list.

    Why? Do we know what is at work here? What is their culture teaching them?

    A long time ago my wife and I tried to convince a female undergraduate Chem Eng to visit schools to talk up the field. She was a graduate of the Bronx HS of Science and was the only the only Hispanic American in the college studying Chem Eng. Her answer was a flat no. About ten years later she had found our forwarding address and sent a letter explaining that she found out she was the only female Hispanic American Chem Eng registered in the state of Florida at the time (about 1992). She wanted us to know that she was involved is a special effort to explain Chem Eng to girls in secondary school. We were very pleased to receive this letter!

    Change takes time and effort. Now, if I could only type!

  • retiredfarmerretiredfarmer Registered User Posts: 643 Member
    edited June 18
    There is more to a good education than collecting the largest number of AP course credits. What is the learning process about?

    Eight elite private schools in the Washington DC area are shifting focus away from piled on AP offerings:

    "The perception that colleges demand AP courses leads many students, perhaps reluctantly, to pass up other classes they might find more intellectually transformative and rewarding," the statement says. "Concurrently, because AP tests loom so large, faculty teaching these courses often feel pressed to sacrifice in-depth inquiry in order to cover all the material likely to be included on the test. This runs counter to the fact that college courses demand critical thinking and rigorous analysis. AP courses, by contrast, often stress speed of assimilation and memorization"

    Whether they are standardized test scores or a focus on the collection of AP courses, the proper function of these educational tools should be placed in perspective as students, parents and teachers are making their course and college selection decisions.

    My points:
    1. An overemphasis of Standardized test scores leads students and parents to circumscribe their options and potential;
    2. An over emphasis on AP courses may have an adverse impact on student interests and development;
    3. And it is all done in the name of college admissions;
    4. Don't jump on a band wagon.

    For more on the AP courses topic see https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parents-forum/2086720-eight-private-high-schools-in-dc-dropping-ap-courses-p1.html. These eight secondary schools truly are top echelon private schools.

    It is also true that the AP programs are presenting opportunities to advanced students in programs that may not otherwise have the resources to satisfy some genuine student needs.

    What about critical thinking and rigorous analysis?

    More reasons for holistic admissions!
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