Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Gaming the System: NCLB for the University Set

Baylor uses "Cheap Ploy" to Gain Rankings

In the Robert Felner debacle, there is reason to question whether President James Ramsey's singular focus on raising the University of Louisville's rankings, a worthy goal, caused him to discount numerous grievances (official and otherwise) as just part of the improvement process.

Now Baylor University does him one better.

Cartoon by Claire Taylor/The Lariat Baylor University.
This from the New York Times:

Baylor Rewards Freshmen Who Retake SAT

Baylor University in Waco, Tex., which has a goal of rising to the first tier of national college rankings, last June offered its admitted freshmen a $300 campus bookstore credit to retake the SAT, and $1,000 a year in merit scholarship aid for those who raised their scores by at least 50 points.

Of this year’s freshman class of more than 3,000, 861 students received the bookstore credit and 150 students qualified for the $1,000-a-year merit aid, said John Barry, the university’s vice president for communications and marketing.

“We’re very happy with the way it worked out,” Mr. Barry said in a telephone interview. “The lion’s share of students ended up with the $300 credit they could use in our bookstore. That’s not going to make or break the bank for anybody. But it’s sure been appreciated by our students and parents.”

The offer, which was reported last week by the university’s student newspaper, The Lariat, raised Baylor’s average SAT score for incoming freshmen to 1210, from about 1200, Mr. Barry said. That score is one of the factors in the rankings compiled by U.S. News & World Report.

News of the action by Baylor, a 14,000-student, private Baptist university, came just weeks after the National Association for College Admission Counseling (Nacac) issued a report calling for a re-examination of the use of SAT and ACT scores in both college admissions and the awarding of merit aid.

Critics of standardized testing said they were troubled by Baylor’s action, pointing out that the SAT was a college admission test and that these students had already been admitted.

“This appears to be the type of misuse of undergraduate admission tests that the Nacac Testing Commission sought to identify and correct,” said David A. Hawkins, the author of the new SAT study and the director of public policy and research for Nacac...

No comments: