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Posts Tagged ‘College Board’

Finding the “Fit” for Top-Performing Low-Income Students

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

In Miami last week at the College Board Forum, Caroline M. Hoxby, an economics professor at Stanford University, discussed some of her research that looks at some of the missteps that low-income students experience in pursuit of a college education.

The Chronicle writes, a staggering number of high-achieving low-income students – roughly 82 percent of an annual cohort consisting of 35,000 – do not apply to colleges that are thought to be “good fits,” at which students from similar backgrounds experience success. Many of these students do not possess savvy in the application process, limiting their college search to too few schools and often relying upon recommendations rather than seeking out the schools that appeal most to their ideals for a college experience. As a result, these students are more likely to attend schools that are less selective than they are qualified to attend.

So who are these students and how can colleges better recruit them? Hoxby’s research identifies the affected group as students coming from large urban areas, often under-served by their schools, who are “isolated” as one of few high-achievers in their peer group. Schools who target these students by mail more so than electronic communication (or better – in person), do well in recruiting and ultimately changing the outcomes of low-income students.

College Board pulls plug on summer SAT for gifted students

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

The news media, concerned parents, and scholars have won an important symbolic victory today for our nation’s young. The College Board backed off a summer test-prep camps for rich kids that would have been blatantly unfair, but the subtle unfairness of the test, advantaging high income youths, continues. This incident has shone a much needed light on one of higher education’s darkest secrets. Standardized tests have long allowed institutions to practice social discrimination in the name of academic selectivity. It’s time more colleges and universities take a stand against the SAT in the name of a level playing field based on academic merit, not household income.

By Joseph A. Soares, Professor of Sociology, Wake Forest University

August SAT Offered to Exclusive Clientele

Friday, June 1st, 2012

The University Prep partnership between the College Board and a National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT) exposes the hypocrisy of the College Board’s rhetoric about the SAT being a fair way to democratize and expand access to higher education.

In reality, this exclusive and unprecedented arrangement – open only to students whose families can pay $4,500 for a fast-lane test prep course in the comfort of an Amherst College summer camp – grants privilege to a small, test-score aristocracy.

While summer camps on college campuses for “gifted” students are nothing new, students in this program can the buy exclusive access to the SAT, which never has been offered outside the school year. This is a very expensive test-prep camp that is open only to students who, in many if not most cases, were pre-selected for gifted and talented programs by standardized tests such as the ETS’s ERB exams (which, like the SAT, correlate highly with family incomes).

Participation in this program sends the message to these youths – and the entire nation – that they are special and deserve exclusive treatment in the form of an additional opportunity to take the SAT.  These students are flying first class to the land of elite universities in August, while everyone else must fly economy in October.

How this program makes for a level playing field for a fair measure of one’s academic merit is a mystery.

By Joseph A. Soares, Professor of Sociology at Wake Forest University

New Leadership at College Board

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

The College Board has announced that David Coleman, architect of  the Common Core State Standards, will become its new president and chief executive officer, beginning in October.  Already, the announcement has created waves across the nation’s educational landscape as many have begun to speculate what changes Coleman’s appointment might bring to the nonprofit organization and one of its best-known products – the SAT.  Over the last decade, Coleman has made a name for himself in the K-12 arena, an area that College Board hopes to penetrate further with implementation of new programs that reach beyond the scope of the AP and the SAT; Coleman provides the “linkage” that is expected to “benefit both K-12 and higher education,” says Lester P. Monts, a former College Board trustee and search committee leader.  Discussing his plans in an interview, Coleman remarked: “What the Common Core does in combination with the College Board is make it more realistic for us as a society to make sure that a kid’s educational life is richer and more rigorous every year,” he said, “so there’s not this sudden rise in challenge when it comes time to take an examination.  Still, critics of the College Board, including Robert A. Schaefer, public education director for FairTest, point to the organization’s continued attempt at using ‘one-size-fits-all’ practices to ‘administer’ the country’s public education.

Whatever your opinion, this juncture provides an opportunity for colleges and high schools to find common ground around an important topic. Coleman’s hiring signals a commitment toward education reform and provides an opportunity for the organization to reforms its own image. “The College Board needs to be known more for what it does than for the SAT and its other products,” says Jerome A. Lucido, another former College Board trustee.  Only time will tell whether this goal might be fulfilled.

Prices Rise but President Promises Help

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

rising-college-costsThere were two important stories this week about a fundamental concern for anyone interested in college admissions.  The first report, released by the College Board at their annual conference, detailed the alarming rise in tuition costs at the nation’s public and private colleges and universities.  Due to downturns in the economy and increasing costs for the institutions themselves, public school prices are now increasing at a higher rate than that of private schools.  The report also discusses the role of the federal government plays in the financial part of the admissions decision-making process.  Many families looking for help count on federal grants and the new tax credit available under the American Opportunity Tax Credit Act of 2009.  But in these difficult times, are those programs enough?  What about student debt over the long term?

Yesterday, President Obama announced a plan to address the debt issue.  His plan would allow for a cut in the monthly repayment minimum for federal loans and debt forgiveness after twenty years.  Additionally, the plan would offer loan consolidation for students that could cut their interest rate by half a point.  The bottom line is loan payments could drop by hundreds of dollars per month.

In terms of college admission, these news items may seem insignificant considering that more than 120 schools now have annual tuition fees topping $50,000.  But when it comes time for students and their families to make the decision about which school to attend, it is the dream of many to make the stress of the financial angle as insignificant as possible.  Whether by increasing need-based aid on the part of the schools themselves, expanding the availability of Pell Grants, or the new plans offered by the Obama administration, every bit helps.  In the realm of  Rethinking Admissions, choices should focus more on the educational reasons involved than on the pocketbook.  But matching what should be true and what is reality for most Americans still is a work in progress.