As readers of this blog know, I write often about discrimination of various sorts. My tendency is to spotlight discrimination in crim justice institutions. But I’ve written about other institutions such as the US Navy, the Catholic Church, and the like.
Some American researchers just released a report on elite school bias. And it seems to put to rest, at least temporarily, an ongoing debate that intensified a number of years ago. Then, a lawsuit was filed against Harvard College, alleging it discriminated against Asian applicants. The ensuring inquiry eventually found that Harvard did not engage in elite school bias.
An interesting take on elite school bias.
The following article by Sarah Wood at DiverseEducation.com details the essence of the report made public July 14th.
“Higher education leaders, organizations and policymakers have long debated the use of affirmative action in college admissions.
The issue has resulted in lawsuits against selective institutions, like Harvard University, which spent six years fighting legal challenges on behalf of Asian American applicants who claimed that the Ivy League institution discriminated against them.
New research now reveals that there is “no strong evidence” to support claims that Asian American applicants who apply to selective institutions are routinely discriminated against during the admissions process.
“When it comes to selective colleges, they really only serve a segment of the population,” said Michael Quinn, co-author of the report …and a senior analyst at Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW). “It might be advantageous to focus more on the broader funding and resource disparities between institutions.”
The CEW report analyzed enrollment trends, acceptance rates and standardized testing scores at 91 selective colleges and universities across the country.**
… Critics argue that relatively stable rates of enrollment for Asian American students over the last few decades indicates a “predetermined racial imbalance” at selective institutions.
Asian American and Pacific Islander [AAPI] enrollment at selective institutions, however, has sustained similar population share growth rates compared to other 4-year colleges.
From 1999 to 2018, the number of AAPI students at [all] four-year institutions rose from 6% to 8%, while selective colleges experienced a growth rate of 4% for AAPI students—with enrollment rates reaching 18%, the research found.
At Harvard specifically, the population of AAPI students increased from 22% to 24%. Additionally, the likelihood that any 4-year student would attend Harvard decreased by similar rates compared to AAPI students, according to the report.
Still, there is a widespread narrative about the “Asian penalty” in admissions. A 2009 study claimed Asian American students needed to score at least 140 points higher than other students to be given consideration at selective institutions.
To test this theory, CEW simulated a test-only admissions system.
Without looking at the other factors used in a holistic admissions process—such as extracurricular activities, grade-point average, personal statements and legacy status—Asian American enrollment would be minimally impacted.
The population of Asian American students would increase by 2%, which equates to less than 3,000 additional available spots at selective colleges, according to the report.
Additionally, under the simulation, the average SAT scores for accepted students grew by 90 points among non-Asian American students and by 70 for Asian American students, the research found.
The researchers indicated that a holistic admissions process “uplifts” students rather than creating “unfair higher standards” for Asian American students. …
Those who score between 1000 to 1099 on the SAT have a 79% chance of graduating from a selective college. The number increases by 6% for those students who scored above 1200, the report revealed.
“Sometimes we put too much emphasis on a couple of point differences,” said Quinn. “Larger differences might be predictive. But when we are talking about just a couple of points keeping some students out, that is not the right thing to focus on.”
Eliminating the SAT could result in selective schools choosing to admit more legacies and students who can afford to pay full tuition price, according to report co-author Dr. Anthony P. Carnevale.
“The real issue here is much bigger than all this,” said Carnevale, who is also a research professor and director of CEW. “The American education system, pre-K through college, is highly segregated. And until you change that with policies that try to provide equal opportunity from preschool to the end of your college career, you can’t have much impact.”
Your take regarding this type of discrimination?
Do you believe there’s “No strong evidence” of admission discrimination vis-a-vis Asian American applicants at selective institutions?
** Duke University’s athletic teams are known as the Blue Devils. Hence the devilish blue logo pictured among those for Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and Columbia. These indicate but a few of the 91 institutions studied across America.
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