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November 03, 2003

Race & SATs (Only) Again

As an advocate of racial integration, I am a supporter of well-managed academic affirmative action at the undergraduate level and have a positive regard for bold-faced tokenism at the graduate level. In my world there would be a two tier system with some very high profile universities exempted from any integration programs. My political opponents say that racial integration is a personal preference and that we should be colorblind, I say take carefully measured portions and mix vigorously. What always irks me is that when it comes down to it, the colorblind supporters of Proposition 209 always end up counting noses by color anyway. And so they are at it again.

I should also take time to remind all concerned that I am a skeptic on matters of affirmative action prophylaxis. That is to say I do not believe that high SAT scorers who are rejected for the sake of affirmative action are objectively worse off than those who are accepted despite their low scores.

Apparently, too many non-whites got into UC again. This time the focus was on 374 students who were accepted at Berkeley with SAT scores < 1000, as compared to the 10,400 who got in with scores >1000. The Oakland Tribune cites the following specs & gives the final word to Ward Connorly, just to show how objective they are.

Moores' analysis didn't include information on the ethnicity of admitted students, but an additional look at data provided by UC headquarters shows that most of the low-scoring students are minority.

In 2002, 63 -- or 19 percent -- of the students were black and 149 -- or 45 percent -- were Latino. Those are minority groups that are underrepresented at UC Berkeley and other UC campuses. Another 83 students (25 percent) were Asian, 5 (1.5 percent) were Native American and 23 (7 percent) were white. Another 9 students were categorized as "other."

In 2001, 66 -- or 17 percent -- of students admitted with scores below 1000 were black and 170 -- 44 percent -- were Latino. Asian students numbered 110 (28 percent); 25 students (6 percent) were white and 17 students (4 percent) were "other" or didn't provide the data.

The LAT on the other hand suggested that non-whites with sub-par SAT scores are being accepted at about the same rate as whites are. Their analysis goes like this:

The University of California provided data pertaining to applicants with scores of 1000 or below who sought admission to freshman classes in the fall of 2002 and 2003. The Times calculated the percentages.

Among the findings:

Taken together, low-scoring blacks, Latinos and Native Americans were just as likely to be admitted as Asians and whites. The admission rate for both groups was 63%.

In all, 67% of low-scoring Latino applicants were admitted to at least one UC campus, compared with 65% of Asians and 60% of whites.

But only 49% of black applicants with similarly low scores were admitted.

The picture was different at the university's two most competitive campuses, where Latinos and blacks who make up a smaller share of the student body relative to their numbers in the state's population were more likely to be accepted.

UC Berkeley, the original focus of the admissions debate, admitted low-scoring blacks and Latinos at twice the rate of Asians and whites with similar scores.

UCLA was about a quarter more likely to admit low-scoring African Americans and Latinos than whites and Asians.

Both campuses were much more selective than others, however. Berkeley accepted only 8% of all low-scoring applicants and UCLA 7%. In all, about 1,500 low-scoring studentsa relatively small number were admitted at the two campuses over the two-year period.

I don't expect that anyone is going to hand over any multidimensional spreadsheets any time soon. This is a particular pet peeve of mine, since multidimensional analysis is what I do. So we'll get pieces of data that suit the agendas of the partisans.

This wouldn't be half a problem if it weren't for the fact that the debate stays obssessed with race & SAT scores and does not give us anything else to talk about. I expect that the knuckleheads that follow Connorly expect nothing more, but I expect more from my newspapers.

Citizens will again focus on race and test scores. Isn't it ironic that Connorly does too?

Posted by mbowen at November 3, 2003 03:31 PM

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Tracked on November 3, 2003 08:55 PM