Are Changes Coming to College Admissions?

 

We know it doesn’t feel like it, but it’s been less than 6 months since the Justice Department announced the indictments resulting from Operation Varsity Blues, so it’s no surprise that few universities have announced any substantial policy changes in their admissions procedures. If most big institutions move slowly, universities look at them and wonder, “What’s the big rush there?”  There are still committees to be convened in order to create sub-committees that can issue memos that can be circulated in order to be approved as official reports by committees who can then move items forward for approval by the faculty and/or Board of Trustees. In other words, don’t expect big changes in how colleges admit students anytime soon.

The truth is that the majority of bachelor’s granting institutions admit more applicants than they reject, so no one is going to be bribing or cheating their way in.  Those schools do not need to make admissions fairer (paying for college is a whole other issue, but that’s for another day). For the vast majority of American high school graduates finding a good college to admit them is as easy as finding a good restaurant in NYC. There are fewer than three hundred colleges that reject more students than they admit, but, yes, many of them could and should change their admissions processes in order to make them fairer. Here’s how.

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Is the SHSAT a Valid Test?

Last week, a short editorial I wrote, Two key questions about how New York City admits students into its elite public schools, appeared in the Washington  Post. Since there are limits on how much can be said in a paper I figured I say the rest of what I have to say here. So here we go…

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Why Aren’t More Colleges Test Optional?

Since the inception of the SAT in 1926, the admission world has debated (19762001200820152018, 2019) the impact of and validity of the SAT (and later the ACT, CLT, CCTST, etc) on the pool of applicants and enrolled students at a Captureuniversity. Recently, more and more colleges have been asking themselves should they diminish the role of testing in their admission process and declare a test optional admissions policy. This debate has heated up recently with the release of Measuring Success: Testing, Grades, and the Future of College Admissions and the announcement of the University of Chicago’s test optional policy causing many institutions to look inward at their use of test scores. Continue reading Why Aren’t More Colleges Test Optional?

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GRE: The One Test To Rule All Grad Schools

Since the 1980s, Educational Testing Service (ETS), which dominated educational admission testing from 1940 – 1980, has been hemorrhaging product lines. In its heyday (SAT word) ETS was the Sauron to US education’s Middle Earth, providing admissions tests for the vast majority of professional certification programs and higher ed admissions.  Their services ranged from teacher certification exams to the SAT, GRE, GMAT, MCAT, and LSAT. In the last decade or so, ETS business strategy has changed and the organization has begun to aggressively market their most popular remaining assessment product, the Graduate Record Exam (commonly known by its initialism – GRE), as “the One Test to Assess Them All.” This strategic market grab, while an interesting business strategy, raises significant questions about all admission tests. Specifically, the expansion of the GRE into fields beyond its design should force responsible test users to reevaluate long-held assumptions about what information is being gained by requiring the GRE (and all its brethren) and at what cost.

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SHSAT 2017 – A Deeper Dive

After announcing changes in September 2016 and then teasing us with 10 sample questions and an FAQ in January 2017, the DOE finally released two full sample tests in May of 2017.  The sample tests were included in the 2017 – 2018 Specialized High School Handbook and I spent the month of June perusing, categorizing, and quantifying the questions contained therein.  With that work done (well it was finished in June but I didn’t get motivated to blog until this morning .. thanks Stacey H), I’m here to share all that I know about the changes to the SHSAT for 2017.

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College, Career, and Cremation Benchmarks

As the new school year begins, I am anxiously awaiting (read: dreading) the forthcoming SAT and ACT annual reports and with them the inevitable exaggerations, hand-wringings, misinterpretations, and statistical paralogisms that will follow. The College Board’s Total Group Reports and ACT’s Condition of College and Career Readiness Reports (or Profile Reports) will not only spark the annual “sky-is-falling because district scores have dropped .005 points” responses but will also likely lead to an uptick in the “SAT/ACT scores show students not ready to succeed in college, career, life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness.”

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What are the changes to the SHSAT?

For the last few years, the NYC DOE has been under pressure to address the demographic imbalances at the Specialized High Schools. While considered some of the city’s (and even the nation’s) top schools, these schools have not reflected the diversity and demographics of the city as a whole in decades. The De Blasio administration took steps to increase the diversity of these schools and signaled that they would actually attempt to address the fact that only 11% of specialized schools are black or hispanic while approximately 70% of other city schools are. The administration took another step later in the fall when it paved the way for changes to the Specialized High School Admission Test (SHSAT) , the sole means of entry to the Specialized High Schools.

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Choosing a Test Prep Program

01rfd-image-custom1Often I’m asked for help selecting a test prep program, course, or tutor (usually in an email that provides almost no details of the situation of the asker…but that’s another story) and of course, if you ask me a question this leads to a 500+ word screed as a response. Since ranting in private spaces only helps a few, I’ve decided to share my thoughts with a wider audience (all 6 of you who read my blog posts).

 

The criteria and considerations below are some of the things you should look for when you are deciding how to prepare for an admission test. You may find other things have to be included in your decision-making but I highly recommend that you at a minimum consider these factors. I’ll outline my rationale for each factor as I go. 

 

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Hate-Reads: College Admission, Testing, and the Media

hatereadThe media is chock full of trash when it comes to reporting on college admissions and especially college admission testing. There are few writers who provide the nuance and thoughtfulness that this process deserves. If I were a parent negotiating this process I’d be hard-pressed to sort the wheat from the chaff. So to help out, I’m here to give you a handy guide what to look for and who to read for your college admission information.
First, let’s talk about what I look for in “good reporting.”

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