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Colleges at the Crossroads

Taking Sides on Contested Issues

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Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis and Pietro A. Sasso

Focusing on crucial issues in higher education, this book challenges readers to go beyond taken-for-granted assumptions about America’s colleges and universities and instead critically examine important questions facing them in today’s troubled world. Each chapter presents divergent perspectives, that is, "pro" and "con" views, in the hope of stimulating reasoned dialogue among students, faculty, administrators, and the public at large. Readers will explore how internal factors in the academic community often interact with external social, economic, and political influences to produce conflictual results. They will see that academe is hardly value-neutral and inevitably political. This book urges them to transcend strident political persuasion and instead engage in the careful analysis needed to make colleges better.

The text provides in-depth appraisal of key topics of controversy: the purposes of higher education, liberal education, academic freedom, political correctness, tenure, shared governance, faculty workload, admissions tests, student learning, Greek life, the worth of college, equity and social justice, athletics, student entitlement, technology and distance instruction, and college amenities. The book will appeal to students, faculty, staff, and all those interested in the future of higher education. It is especially useful for courses in contemporary issues in higher education, foundations of higher education, higher education and society, college student development, and the organization and administration of higher education.

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21. The Importance of Standardized Tests in College Admissions (Martin C. Yu / Nathan R. Kuncel)

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21.  The Importance of Standardized Tests in College Admissions

MARTIN C. YU AND NATHAN R. KUNCEL

College Admissions

In the admissions process at many colleges and universities, standardized tests are commonly used in conjunction with other student information by admissions committees to help inform decisions about undergraduate and graduate school applicants. However, there are those who question whether these tests are effective predictors of college performance and raise concerns that they are unfair to certain groups of students (e.g., Hughey, 2009; Rooney & Schaeffer, 1998; Sacks, 1997). Some advocate that in college admissions, standardized tests should be given less weight, made optional, or eliminated altogether. In this chapter, we aim to demonstrate that standardized tests are highly valid predictors of college performance and that they play an important role in the admissions process. Additionally, it is also our goal to correct the record on several commonly misconceived issues concerning the use of standardized tests in admissions, and to discuss what is known about additional predictors that are used in conjunction with test scores and grades.

Predictive Validity of Standardized Tests

It is valuable to demystify the nature of tests as they ask people to do tasks that are directly relevant to academic and work success. Read a passage and understand it. Examine a graph and interpret it. Apply foundational mathematical skills to a problem. Even simple verbal analogy problems require a person to see...

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