I was on vacation with my family this week when my seven-year-old son overheard one of his cousins calling another member of the family a “tool” and asked me what that meant. I tried to explain that the term “tool” can be used to suggest that a person is easily used or manipulated by others and that it’s another way of saying the person is a fool, or at least terribly mislead.
Since he still seemed confused, I used a recent example from admissions. I had just read an article in the Journal of College Admissions regarding score optional admissions, or admissions decisions in which SAT or ACT scores are not used as factors. the author also had a nearly identical article in Recruitment and Retention in Higher Education. Perhaps some may consider it questionable to have the same article under two different names in two different publications, but that’s not a reason to consider the author a “tool”.
In the article(s), the author raises ethical questions regarding colleges and universities that have implemented score optional admission policies. He asserts that the reasons for implementing such policies are entirely self-serving. He also notes that most institutions with these policies claim higher SAT/ACT averages when they only report averages of students who submitted scores.
I don’t doubt that some institutions have self-serving reasons for implementing such policies. I can speak for Mason, however. Mason, shameless plug here, may be the largest competitive institution in the nation to have implemented such a policy. We did it based on really solid data that standardized tests were not good predictors of success for our applicants with the strongest academic records. We allow students to substitute greater weighting on leadership experience in place of standardized test scores. So far, as with nearly every school that has implemented such a policy, we have found that students who we admit through our score optional policy do just as well as students with similar academic records admitted with scores. It appears, however, that the author never bothered to do a lick of research and has no idea of the data behind these decisions. Such sloppy and incompetent research could lead some to label the author a slacker, but not necessarily a tool.
His point on how colleges with score optional policies average their scores is even more ridiculous. He claims that not including scores from score optional applicants who are admitted in our admitted student averages is misleading. So, if I follow what the author is trying to pass off as logic, if I include scores in Mason’s averages that had nothing to do with students’ admission, I will somehow make my averages more accurate. These statistics, as a result of following his method, would be less likely to help future applicants understand their chances of admission. Such inept logic is most unfortunate, but again doesn’t brand the author a tool.
All of these issues were enough to get my attention and arouse my disdain for the articles. Imagine my delight, then, only a few days after I read the first of these wonderful articles to receive an email from the company that employs the author (official motto, “helping you get your future students to accept higher tuition and lower financial aid, no matter what kind of education you decide to provide”) inviting me to participate in a phone interview survey of higher education practices and the use of standardized testing, “on behalf of a client in the college admissions testing industry” (would that be SAT or ACT? So many choices!).
Fascinating. Let’s review. The author works for a company that consults for educational organizations, and his company has a contract with one of the standardized testing companies. Those companies seem to perceive (wrongly, I think) that score optional policies are a threat. Then he writes an article (twice!) condemning the policies that concern his company’s client.
Now I don’t mean to disparage the author, who I have never met and who I’m sure had very good intention in writing his article – both times. I will say, however, that by the time I was done explaining, my seven-year-old understood the use of these terms (or at least said he did, possibly in order to get me to stop explaining). The question is, do you? Be seeing you.
Filed under: Education |