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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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22. Why Standardized Testing Is Not Essential in College Admissions (Aaron W. Hughey)

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22.  Why Standardized Testing Is Not Essential in College Admissions

AARON W. HUGHEY

As Strauss (2016a) has observed, “Test scores have consequences, some more than others. College admissions test scores are more far-reaching than many students might know.” While this might not be the understatement of the century, it certainly qualifies as a finalist for that honor. Standardized testing has been endemic to academic culture for the last century; and although it is still woefully entangled in virtually every level of our educational institutions, telltale signs are beginning to coalesce, suggesting that perhaps the practice has reached the limit of its utility as an assessment tool. Nowhere is the growing tide of discontent with standardized testing more evident than within the realm of college admissions. Once seen as a way to ensure access to higher education for those capable of being successful in the academy, the inherent flaws of the SAT, ACT, GRE and a whole variety of specialty instruments are becoming more manifest as their true limitations are increasingly exposed.

As noted above, there is currently a movement away from using standardized tests in the college admissions process; among the schools that no longer require the SAT or the ACT are Brandeis University, Wesleyan University, Virginia Commonwealth, American University, and Catholic University (Anderson, 2016a). At George Washington University, applications saw a 28 percent increase after it dropped the requirement that prospective students submit SAT or ACT scores...

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