Sunday, January 13, 2013

Affirmative action has backfired

One consequence of widespread race-preferential policies is that minority students tend to enroll in colleges and universities where their entering academic credentials put them toward the bottom of the class. While academically gifted under-represented minority students are hardly rare, there are not enough to satisfy the demand of top schools. When the most prestigious schools relax their admissions policies in order to admit more minority students, they start a chain reaction, resulting in a substantial credentials gap at nearly all selective schools. For example, according to data released by the University of Texas, the mean SAT scores (out of 2400) and mean high-school grade-point averages (on a 4.0 scale) varied widely by race for the entering class of 2009. For Asians, the numbers were 1991 and 3.07; whites were at 1914 and 3.04; Hispanics at 1794 and 2.83; and African-Americans at 1524 and 2.57. The SAT scores for the Asian students placed them in the 93rd percentile of 2009 SAT-takers nationwide; the African-American students, meanwhile, were at the 52nd percentile. This has the predictable effect of lowering the college or professional-school grades the average minority student earns. And the reason is simple: While some students will outperform their entering credentials, just as some students will underperform theirs, most students perform in the range that their entering credentials suggest.

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