Tests part of U entry formula

by Lily Langerud

When the College Board reported it had incorrectly submitted the scores of 4,000 students who took the SAT in October, only one applicant to the University was affected.

But for the growing number of students who apply to the University each year, the level of importance standardized test scores are remains a question.

Wayne Sigler, director of the Office of Admissions, said the University takes a “holistic” approach to evaluating student applications. The office gives high school grades, class rank and difficulty of coursework the strongest consideration, Sigler said.

“The University’s admission requirements are designed to enhance the likelihood that admitted students will be retained and graduate in a timely manner,” Sigler said. “They are not designed to develop an admissions profile that will enhance our rankings in U.S. News & World Report.”

The University seeks to become one of the top three public research universities in the world, and national rankings, like those released from the University of Florida, use SAT and ACT scores among a number of other indicators.

Richard Howard, a member of the strategic positioning metrics and measurement committee, said that although standardized test scores are important, other variables such as graduation rates and retention rates are considered as well.

“When you’re doing comparative data, you need to remember that all of the institutions in the comparative group have to use the same measures,” Howard said, adding that generally accepted standards are defined by the ranking institutions, not the University.

Rick Orr, a political science and sociology senior, said that although he doesn’t believe standardized tests are the best way to evaluate a student, the University has little choice in the matter.

“I think the University is trapped in its own standardized testing. The way that you rank a university is similar to a standardized test.”

Orr, who is dyslexic, said he tests horribly but does well in other areas, a factor that was part of his original admission to the University’s Duluth campus.

“I think the University as a whole does its best to take the flaws of the SAT into consideration,” he said.

Orr said students on campus should be as concerned with the school’s ranking as the University is, but should keep in mind that the system has flaws.

Carina Wong, spokeswoman for Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, said the service recommends that students look into College Board’s optional fee-based scoring checks.

Kaplan offers a guaranteed higher score for students who pay for the program.

Critics of standardized testing point not only to the tests’ abilities to accurately gauge how a student will perform in college, but also a student’s ability to pay for optional services.

Monty Neill, executive director of The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, said the organization advocates making standardized tests optional for students.

“These tests are limited instruments that are being badly misused,” Neill said, citing bias in the tests.

Colleges that rely heavily on standardized tests are more likely to admit wealthy, white applicants, he said.

Sigler said the University remains devoted to ensuring appropriate access to the University.

“We work very hard to keep test scores in their proper perspective,” he said.

The University has not had an experience with incorrectly reported test scores in the past, Sigler said.

The application decision for the student with misreported scores was not affected, he said.

“I know that the College Board is working very hard to identify the source of the problem and I have a lot of confidence in their professionalism,” Sigler said.

Regardless of the University’s goals, Sigler said the importance of test scores will not change.

“I do not anticipate any significant changes in the undergraduate admissions process,” Sigler said.