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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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Part Eleven: Should Standardized Tests Be Given More or Less Weight in College Admissions?

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Part Eleven:  Should Standardized Tests Be Given More or Less Weight in College Admissions?

In “The Importance of Standardized Tests in College Admissions,” Martin C. Yu and Nathan R. Kuncel make the case for the utility of such tests. When controlling for high school course selection variability, standardized tests such as the SAT are seen as predictors of potential college grade point average. The authors seek to dispel myths about test bias, socioeconomic status, and coaching that assist with test–retest results. They note that the tests do not take into account noncognitive factors (e.g., study habits and attitude) and that they measure only academic potential, not all human dimensions. Given this severe limitation, Yu and Kuncel contend that tests should be given lesser consideration for admissions, but that they should still be continued because of their value.

In “Why Standardized Testing Is Not Necessary in College Admissions,” Aaron W. Hughey points to what he considers “inherent flaws” in the SAT, ACT, GRE, and other specialty tests typically mandated for admission to higher education institutions (though a growing number are no long requiring tests for undergraduate admission). Hughey surveys the testing industry and its potent influence, maintaining that it tends to divide students along social class, race, and gender lines in both K–12 and postsecondary education. The author also treats the issue of dishonesty and cheating in test implementation. Hughey sums up the testing system as fundamentally discriminatory and...

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