SATs predict college graduation

The much-maligned SATs predict college graduation, writes Peter Salins, a SUNY-Stony Brook  political science professor, in the New York Times. Some SUNY campuses decided to rely more heavily on SAT scores in admissions; others continued to rely on high-school grade-point averages.  Those that stressed SATs saw gains in graduation rates: Old Westbury doubled its (pathetically low) six-year completion rate of 18 percent. At the GPA-centric campuses, graduation rates declined.

Discriminations asked Salins about socioeconomic factors and received a prompt reply:

…. SUNY campuses have never had many students from either tail of the class/income spectrum…. At Old Westbury, for example, the higher SAT scoring students there today — that are graduating at twice the rate of their counterparts four years ago — have almost exactly the same racial/family income profile of their predecessors — namely predominantly African American and lower middle class.

University of California is considering dropping the SAT subject tests, notes Right on the Left Coast. UC also may consider students with lower grades and those who didn’t take all the required college-prep courses. UC already has a problem getting its weakest students to a degree in six years.

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  1. Physics Teacher says:

    This should be no surprise to anyone.

    The education world is filled with people who seem to think that if only didn’t have SATs then everyone would go to Harvard and Yale. Somehow, these folks just aren’t doing the math.

    Thanks to grade inflation you’ve got countless kids who’ve been repeatedly told they’re geniuses and when they get their SAT scores back they suddenly fall merely in the average range.

    I think we should move to a system that resembles the British system where a set of standardized exams determines who gets to go to the most prestigious schools.

  2. I believe the op-ed to which you linked refers only to the SAT reasoning test (or whatever they’re calling it these days), not the subject tests; they’re completely different tests and I see no reason to a priori believe that results based on the SATs would transfer to conclusions about SAT subject tests.

  3. linda seebach says:

    Salins had a longer piece on the Manhattan Institute site, Minding the Campus, Oct. 15:

  4. Cardinal Fang says:

    I wonder how true this is for higher scorers. I have no trouble believing that scorers in the 600s (1200-1390 Math plus Reading) are more likely to graduate than scorers in the 500s (1000-1190 Math plus Reading). But I wonder whether scorers in the 700s are more likely to graduate than scorers in the 600s range. When 600+ scorers drop out, it’s not because they’re not smart enough, I think.

  5. In my department, SAT/ACT are more predictive of both graduation and GPA than the high school GPA. We are not an elite institution, though (average SAT ca. 1120 or some such)

  6. SAT measures how well a person does in school, thus it translates into higher graduations rates. This should be no surprise.

    The question is should ourcolleges worry about graduation rates or should it worry about quality education?

  7. Thanks for the link 🙂