Larry Elder

Move over, Martin Luther King Jr., and your desire for a colorblind society. The University of California system prefers a color-coordinated one.

UC's Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS) wants to change the admission rules to their 10 schools, including lowering the minimum high school GPA to 2.8 and removing the requirement of two SAT Subject Tests.

Current policy makes the top 12.5 percent of each senior class -- based on a minimum 3.0 GPA, their scores on either the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT with Writing, and their scores on two SAT Subject Tests -- eligible for admission to a UC school.

But, a large percentage of poor, black and Hispanic students, according to BOARS, never take the SAT Subject Tests, shutting them out from eligibility. Lowering the GPA and dropping the requirement for two SAT Subject Tests increases the number of students eligible for admission, giving the universities a larger, more minority-laden pool from which to choose.

Yet this proposed policy adversely affects students, many of them Asian American students (formerly known as minorities). And doing away with the SAT Subject Tests -- where students pick their two best subjects from a variety of tests in English, history, mathematics, science and language -- inflicts the most damage.

Used since 1926, with revisions over the decades, SATs try to make sense out of different grades, given by different teachers, in different classes, in different schools. How do we know the A given by Mr. Anderson in Texas equals the A given in another class by Mrs. Tyler in New Hampshire? Answer: The SAT. As for the SAT Subject Tests (called Achievement Tests until 1994, and SAT IIs until 2005), each subject has a one-hour test, and a student can take up to three Subject Tests in one day.

Critics of the SAT argue that grades remain the best predictor of success in college. Agreed, provided we take into consideration grade inflation or watered-down standards -- precisely why most colleges, despite no government mandate, still require that applicants take the SAT.

Admitting students with lowered standards hurts the very kids that race-coordinators claim to protect. In a groundbreaking study UCLA Professor Richard Sander -- a longtime affirmative action advocate -- found that law school minority students admitted with lower criteria suffered from this "academic mismatch." After the first year of law school, 51 percent of black students were likely to be in the bottom tenth of their class, compared with 5 percent of whites. These mismatched students were twice as likely to drop out or fail the bar on their first try. Sander concluded that if schools and students were better matched, we'd have many more black lawyers.


Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com.