More chatter about the SAT

I thought I was pretty good at shameless plugs, but I was truly impressed by the awesome shamless plug that Wake Forest managed to give themselves in today’s Washington Post. They managed to get a letter from their president printed about their daring move to go SAT optional (two years after we did, 20 years after Bates – how daring!). Unfortunately, their president seems to see this purely as a diversity initiative. He notes that class rank is a better indicator of performance, but neglects to mention that class ranks are used less and less by secondary school systems. He cites a bunch of other criteria that work better, skipping over the fact that the SAT isn’t supposed to work better than other criteria…but it does increase predictive models when used WITH those other criteria. He doesn’t even cite a single piece of internal research to support a new system at Wake – just that he likes their new system better. Bravo!
As you might guess from my sarcasm, I think Wake just took advantage of a well-established trend to get a little spotlight (hey – over here – we’re in the “top thirty” – top twenty would be better!). I’m not one to scoff at some free PR, but it would be nice if their president actually explained some substantive data, and explained plainly how Wake’s admission process will change. If you’re going to take up space in a huge publication like the Post, you’d hope a college president could do something a little more…academic.
Or maybe I’m just jealous. Hey – are you listening to that Post? We did this before them, and we’re the biggest school in the country with a score optional process, and his opinion piece didn’t even LIST us among score optional schools! AND we’re the only score optional school in the market where your paper is published! Hello? Anyone? Be seeing you.


2 Responses

  1. I couldn’t believe they published it. It was like a press release!

    It seems that many colleges who go score optional are as vague as the schools who keep using the SAT. Neither can tell you why they are ignoring certain statistics and trusting other numbers.

  2. Generally true. Mason, as well as Bates and Salisbury State (Md) have made our statistical analysis available for any reporters (or students, parents, etc). In our case, we reviewed three years of entering class data compared with their academic performance across any criteria we had tracked. We found that the SAT did not add predictive value to our models – and in some ranges was a counter predictor (those with lower scores performed better).

    As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, this is by no means conclusive as we only included students we admitted when we WERE using the SAT for all students. We are currently enrolling our second class that had the opportunity to apply score optional. Our data on the first class (only grades – we won’t have persistence until mid-Fall) shows that the 2% of our entering class that was admitted through our score optional admission process is performing above the class in general and comparable to students with the same grade point averages.

    And I agree that it is especially surprising to see the post publishing press releases. If only I’d known they were willing to do so!!

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