Regarding the Oct. 25 news article “ NCCU tests admissions scale”: The proposal to have N.C. Central University admit students with SAT scores below 800 is a bad idea.
Board member Steve Long was correct when he said that “minimum admissions standards are good for students and good for schools.” Board member Thomas Harrelson was incorrect when he said that “the best predictor is hard work and grades in high school. I’m not sure we should use the SAT at all.”
Universities have no measure of student willingness to do hard work, and “A” grades at different schools do not mean the same thing.
At Goldsboro High, only 16.4 percent of the students passed the end-of-course tests while 74.1 percent passed at East Chapel Hill High. I doubt that the proportions of “A” grades differed comparably.
SAT scores do mean the same thing at both schools. At Goldsboro High, the average score was 772 vs. 1,198 at East Chapel Hill. A combination of SAT scores and grades gives the best prediction.
The use of the SAT does not discriminate against students from predominantly African-American schools. In fact, it over-predicts their performance. Accepting students with SAT scores below 800 ensures mediocrity and invites fraud, as we know from the UNC experience with athletes.
Elliot M. Cramer
Professor emeritus, Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill