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Wednesday February 28, 2001

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UA will not be affected by California SAT-elimination proposal

By Rachel Schick

Arizona Daily Wildcat

ACT option gives Arizona an alternative in standardized testing

The University of California system's proposal to eliminate SAT I scores from admissions requirements will not affect the UA, an admissions official said yesterday.

Cathey L. Mayes, assistant director of the Office of Admissions and New Student Enrollment, said the University of Arizona requires either the Scholastic Aptitude Test or the subject-based ACT test.

"We like to give students both options," Mayes said.

Mayes said the SAT I is not a fair assessment of high-school knowledge for minorities, especially black students, who score an average of 980 to 1000. In contrast, black students score higher on the ACT, she said.

The SAT II tests, which are also subject-specific, are not necessary for UA admission, but the UC system would still require them.

UC-Berkeley is one of the UA's 15 official peer institutions, meaning it has similar characteristics, such as enrollment and state funding, according to the UA Fact Book.

But Mayes said the UC proposal would have no effect on the UA's admission process.

"I don't foresee any of our admission-test requirements changing," she said.

Last week, UC President Richard Atkinson recommended that the SAT I test be replaced by a subject-based test to better assess students' high-school educations.

"Standardized tests are fair and useful admissions tools when they assess what students have actually learned in school - not how they rate on an ill-defined measure of aptitude or intelligence," said Atkinson in his Feb. 18 speech to the American Council on Education in Washington, D.C.

Lasaundra Owens, a journalism freshman, said she supports the UC proposal.

"I got 3.5's and 4.0's all through high school and I had low SAT scores," Owens said. "This one test really doesn't reflect on anything you learned through high school."

Joe Camicia, an undeclared freshman from California, said one reason why he did not apply to any of the UC schools was because his SAT scores were not high enough.

"I knew I wouldn't get into what (school) I wanted to get into," he said.

Test scores on the SAT I are directly related to a student's prior SAT training in improving test-taking skills and mastering high-school material, said Abby Lunardini, Media Coordinator for the UC Office of the President.

Training should not be required to test knowledge obtained in high school, she added.

Lunardini said a test that does not require test preparation from a source outside a student's high school would provide an equal opportunity for minorities who have not performed well on the SAT I.

Low-income students have proven to score lower on the SAT I because of expenses of preparatory SAT courses, Lunardini added.

"The elimination of the SAT I would provide a more level playing field,

she said.

"It will diversify the pool - I think that it will make for a stronger student body."

Owens also said she has met students at the UA who scored between 1300 and 1400 on their SATs but are getting lower grades than she is.

"I don't think it's a fair assessment at all," Owens added. "Because when you get here you're not sitting down just taking a test - you're writing papers, you're analyzing things."

The College Board, creator of the SAT, said subject-based tests of achievement and the SAT I were both equally good at predicting how a student would perform in a certain college.

Seppy Basili, vice president of learning and assessment for test-preparation group Kaplan, Inc., said he disagreed with Atkinson's assessment of the standardized test's value.

Basili said the SAT I does give an accurate assessment of how a student will perform in college when used properly. The consideration of a student's grade point average in addition to their SAT I score is a fair assessment for college admissions to use.

"I don't see dropping the SAT I as being beneficial," he said.

He added that students who are prepared for the test put themselves at an advantage.

"It's not the content of the test that makes it tough, it's just the way they ask the questions," Basili said.

Basili said the SATs are not perfect, but the UC system is approaching the situation with no solution. He said a major problem to be addressed is that public schools have not added spaces for students in relation to the growing population of California.

"UC doesn't have a long-term solution," Basili said. "I see no reason to make a shift."