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The Daily Tar Heel

UC President Looks to Downplay SATs in Admissions

Atkinson has proposed that student eligibility for the university be based on student performance tests that are more rooted in high school curriculum, such as the SAT II.

The UC system, made up of 23 campuses, is one of the most influential university systems in the nation, admitting the largest number of students nationwide.

UC-system spokesman Brad Hayward said the SAT II measures scholastic aptitude more accurately than the SAT because it tests more specific material and is more relevant to high school coursework. "The SAT is problematic because it is not directly tied to the subject matter in high schools."

The SAT consists entirely of multiple-choice questions, and it tests students mostly on math and reading comprehension. The SAT II focuses on subjects such as history, chemistry and writing.

Atkinson's plan, because it would decrease the overall emphasis on standardized tests, would also reach out to minorities and students from low-income families -- students that traditionally perform below the national average on the SAT.

UNC Admissions Director Jerry Lucido said the proposal was an effort to reverse the trend of UC campuses becoming less diverse since racial preferences were eliminated from UC admission criteria in 1995. "I think Atkinson's measure is a silly proposal -- (an attempt to) make the colleges more diverse."

In a press release from The College Board, which administers the SAT, officials questioned the wisdom of eliminating a test many admission officials use to predict college performance.

College Board President Gaston Caperton stated in the press release that the SAT has been a key component in college admissions for many years.

"(While) it is true that some students do not perform as well as other groups on standardized tests, including the SAT, it provides a national standard and encourages high achievement," he stated in the press release.

Caperton also said in the press release that the SAT, along with a combination of student activities, becomes a good assessment tool for professional admissions officers.

But disparities in SAT scores have already prompted other colleges to create SAT-optional admissions policies, including Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania.

"We think we can make good admissions decisions without SAT scores," said Chris Hooker-Haring, dean of admissions at Muhlenberg College.

Hooker-Haring said the SAT option has been in effect at Muhlenberg College since 1996.

But Caperton said he and The College Board think it would be detrimental to completely eliminate the time-honored test. "For 75 years, the SAT has continued to help students, families, and colleges manage the admissions process," he said. "To eliminate an extremely useful piece of information in the process is not fair to anyone."

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