Posts tagged ‘University of Texas at Austin’

October 3, 2012

Quick links – SAT scores continue to drop, affirmative action questioned, the downside of smartphones, more

by Grace

 ‘SAT reading scores hit a four-decade low’ (Washington Post)

Reading scores on the SAT for the high school class of 2012 reached a four-decade low, putting a punctuation mark on a gradual decline in the ability of college-bound teens to read passages and answer questions about sentence structure, vocabulary and meaning on the college entrance exam.

Many experts attribute the continued decline to record numbers of students taking the test, including about one-quarter from low-income backgrounds. There are many factors that can affect how well a student scores on the SAT, but few are as strongly correlated as family income.

Scores among every racial group except for those of Asian descent declined from 2006 levels. A majority of test takers — 57 percent — did not score high enough to indicate likely success in college, according to the College Board, the organization that administers the test.


—  Critics charge that there is a ‘Research War on Affirmative Action’ (Inside Higher Ed)

Several studies presented Friday at the Brookings Institution suggested that eliminating the consideration of race would not have as dramatic an effect on minority students as some believe, and that the beneficiaries of affirmative action may in fact achieve less academic success than they would otherwise. The studies were criticized by some present for being one-sided.

Criticism was aimed at two studies with controversial conclusions:

  1. There seems to be no “chilling effect” as a result of doing away with affirmative action.  The yield rate for minority students who were admitted based on “race-neutral” standards actually increased after the affirmative action ban took effect.
  2. Strong evidence was presented for the harmful effects of affirmative action “mismatch” –  the idea “that minority students who are admitted to better institutions because of affirmative action may end up with lower academic achievement as a result”.

The Supreme Court will begin hearing the affirmative action case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin this month.


—  ACT now more popular than the SAT (Boston.com)


—  ‘Pack More in a Day By Matching Tasks To the Body’s Energy’ (WSJ)

A growing body of research suggests that paying attention to the body clock, and its effects on energy and alertness, can help pinpoint the different times of day when most of us perform our best at specific tasks, from resolving conflicts to thinking creatively.

This is definitely true for me:

When it comes to doing cognitive work, for example, most adults perform best in the late morning, says Dr. Kay. As body temperature starts to rise just before awakening in the morning and continues to increase through midday, working memory, alertness and concentration gradually improve. Taking a warm morning shower can jump-start the process.


—  ‘Why It’s Bad That Smartphones Have Banished Boredom’ (Slashdot)

For one thing, we talk less with people while standing in line.


—  Women continue to earn the majority of advanced degrees, but this is apparently not viewed as a problem

Professor Mark J. Perry sees a problem.

… But don’t expect any concern about the fact that men have increasingly become the second sex in higher education.  The concern about gender imbalances will remain extremely selective, and will only focus on cases when women, not men, are underrepresented.

May 24, 2012

Higher selectivity brings ‘ethnic shift’ in college population

by Grace

At CUNY, Stricter Admissions Bring Ethnic Shift

More than a decade after the City University of New York ended open admissions to its four-year colleges, a marked shift has occurred at its top institutions as freshman classes now enter with far better academic credentials and also a different demographic mix.

By “ethnic shift”, they mean more Asians and fewer Blacks and Hispanics

At the same time, black representation among first-time freshmen at those colleges dropped, to 10 percent last fall from 17 percent in 2001. Over the same period, the Hispanic share rose slightly for several years, then fell once the recession began, to 18 percent, while the white portion fell slightly, to 35 percent.

Asians are now entering the top colleges in the greatest numbers, composing 37 percent of those classes, up from 25 percent a decade earlier.

CLICK TO SEE THE GRAPHS IN BETTER DETAIL

As expected, the CUNY colleges have risen in status but lost black and Hispanic students.  I’d like to know if any change in gender distribution has also occurred.

Public universities in other states have also become more selective, but any resultant “ethnic shift” is unclear.

Across the country, the most selective public colleges have been growing more so for decades, with many of them seeing a notable shift in the past few years. The share of entering freshmen who were in the top 10 percent of their high school classes rose to 73 percent last fall from 69 percent in 2007 at the University of Texas at Austin, to 57 percent from 49 percent at Binghamton University and to 80 percent from 76 percent at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to name a few.

“There is plenty of evidence that our flagship public universities have been growing more selective for 30 years, with a decided uptick in this recession,” said Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

Whether there has been a resulting demographic change is unclear, because most colleges have changed the way they record racial data, and in some states, new laws banning affirmative action have influenced enrollment.

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For almost 30 years, beginning in 1970, CUNY admitted any high school graduate to at least one of its colleges, though that meant admitting many who needed remedial courses. Enrollment surged, graduation rates dropped, and more high-achieving students went elsewhere.

Pressed by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, CUNY’s senior colleges stopped accepting students who needed remedial work, and generally required applicants to meet minimum standards for SAT scores and other measures.

I first learned of CUNY’s poor reputation when I was working in the oil field back in the late 1980s and a newly hired geologist who had received his degrees from CUNY felt compelled to explain he graduated before the negative effects of the open enrollment policy took hold.  Without that explanation, his fellow New Yorkers working in the Texas oil business (and there were many) would have been inclined to look down their noses at his scientific expertise.  It’s sad to think that a school’s good reputation was harmed by this action, causing it to lose strong applicants who felt their education would suffer if they enrolled in their local public university.

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