SAT I May See Major Changes As UC Discusses Elimination

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In response to a growing movement within UC to eliminate the SAT I as an admissions requirement, the College Board has announced that it may change as much as half of the test.

College Board President Gaston Caperton announced that the board is considering major adjustments, including removing the analogy section and adding a writing portion. He also suggested that advanced math be tested.

The analogy section of the test has been criticized by UC administrators as testing only students' vocabulary and memorization.

The College Board had been working with UC to develop a new test to reflect more accurately California's high school curriculum. The revisions of the test proposed by Caperton would improve areas of the SAT I that UC administrators have said are problematic.

The move away from the SAT I was begun just over a year ago by UC President Richard Atkinson who announced he did not think the test measured a student's mastery of subject matter learned in the


Earlier this year, the UC Board on Admissions and Relations with Schools proposed a new set of tests to include a core three-hour exam with a writing sample and two one-hour exams to test material taught in classes that make up the course requirements for UC.

David Benjamin, head of a private SAT preparation course called Ahead of the Class, said that UC has been "bullying" the College Board to make adjustments to the test and should accept the board's revised test instead of pursuing its own, new test.

"If the College Board is willing to make these changes and UC isn't willing to go along with it, I think it's absolutely ridiculous," he said.

But others remain critical of the College Board's motivation behind the considered changes.

Director of Princeton Review Jay Rosner said the College Board is considering the changes primarily "to keep the UC as a customer."

"The timing of (the board's) announcements (close) to the relatively unified position of the regents and faculty" illustrates the board's priority in appeasing UC, he said.

Caperton's March 22 announcement was made 10 days after the UC Board of Regents meeting in which they discussed replacing the SAT I with the proposed new test series. The regents have final say on what tests are used in admissions.

"The College Board is making whatever changes are minimally necessary to get by this crisis," Rosner said.

Rosner said the only benefit that would come from the test's changes would be encouraging high schools and teachers to improve the curriculum, particularly focusing on writing and advanced math.

Other critics said the board's considered changes to the SAT I would do nothing to diversify UC.

Student activist Hoku Jeffrey, who has been pushing for the elimination of the SAT in UC admissions, said that neither changes to the SAT I nor the creation of a new standardized test would be enough to increase minority enrollment significantly.

"There's no tinkering or adjustments that can offset the bias that's enhanced by the SAT," Jeffrey said. "Maintenance of the use of the SAT is the maintenance of institutionalized racism in the UC system," he said.

But some UC Berkeley students said they do not believe eliminating the SAT I is a solution to increasing minority enrollment.

The problem is not the test, said UC Berkeley junior Masha Ovchinikov. Performance disparities are indicative of problems in high schools. Time and money should be spent trying to fix them-not the test, she said.

Caperton has also blamed a biased K-12 education system in California for the discrepancies in test scores between minority groups highlighted by the SAT I. He called the education system "the most undemocratic thing" in the nation.

UC Berkeley senior Dong Nguyen said UC should keep the SAT I but focus more on an applicant's grade point average to minimize disparate effects from socio-economic backgrounds.

UC has said the proposed changes are positive but still too vague for the university to decide if it will stick with the test.

The College Board expects to make a decision on revisions to the SAT I by June 26. UC hopes to implement either a new test or a revised SAT I by 2006.


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