Skip to main content

The Race Goes On: Who wins?

If you know much about higher education, you know that about 80% of college students enrolled in not-for-profit institutions the US attend public universities and colleges.  Nine percent of all college enrollments, for instance, are in California Community Colleges.

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe public universities--whether they are the state's flagship or a university with two directions in its name--have an obligation at some level to the citizens of the state who support it. And by "citizens of the state" I mean all citizens.

People at the university, of course, are often focused on making the university more prestigious; look at almost any strategic plan, for instance, and you're likely to find something about "improving academic quality as measured by standardized test scores," or something very similar.

One problem: The two goals tend to be in conflict with each other.

So for this visualization, I made it very simple: I took public institutions with a Carnegie Classification of "Research Universities: Very High Research Activity."  They're more often than not considered to be the state flagship institution, or, in some states, one of the flagships.

The charts are identical, except for the x-axis.  On the top chart, it's mean SAT CR+M of the entering freshman class; in the bottom, it's the mean ACT-Composite.  (Because IPEDS reports only 25th and 75th percentiles, I averaged the two, which is not perfect, but close enough for this analysis.)

The y-axis shows percentage of freshmen who receive a Pell Grant.  Of course, to be fair, it's not the percentage of admitted freshmen who are eligible for a Pell Grant, so there are several possible explanations for this number that is a residual of a complicated process.

Right away, of course, you notice the trend: As test scores go up, low-income students go down.  Add to it diversity, as indicated by the color of the point, and you see another pattern: The bluer dots are more heavily Asian and Caucasian; note also that they're below the line (presumably under-performing on enrolling kids with Pell), and more likely to be on the right side (high test scores) of the chart.

It's a fair criticism, of course, to point out that not every state has similar levels of wealth and poverty.  But I doubt that many of these places would be unable to find more poor students in their state, were they to simply understand that the thing they think is propelling them--test scores--may be the very thing that is holding them back.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

2018 Admissions Data

This is always a popular post, it seems, and I've had a couple of people already ask when it was going to be out.  Wait no more.

This is IPEDS 2018 admissions data, visualized for you in two different ways.  You can switch using the tabs across the top.

The first view is the universe of colleges and universities that report data; not every college is required to, and a few leave data out, and test optional colleges are not supposed to report test scores.  But IPEDS is not perfect, so if you find any problems, contact the college.

On the first view, you'll see 1,359 four-year private and public, not-for-profit institutions displayed.  In order to make this as clean as possible, I've taken out some specialty schools (nursing, business, engineering, etc.) as many of those don't have complete data.  But you can put them back in using the filter at top right.

Hover over any bar, and a little chart pops up showing undergraduate enrollment by ethnicity.

You can also choose to…

Another 1000 Words and Ten Charts on First-generation, Low-income, and Minority Students

I have always enjoyed writing, and I consider this and my other blog like a hobby.  Usually, I spend no more than 45 minutes on any post, as I don't make my living by writing, and my blogs are not "monetized." But once in a while, an opportunity presents itself to write for a wider audience, and that's when I see what it takes to make a living putting words to paper. That happened this week.

You may have seen my opinion piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education. If not, you can read it first, read it last, or not at all; I think both this and that stand alone, despite their relationship.  In the end, we ended up with about 40% of my first draft, which is what happens when you write for a print publication. And of course, a print publication makes interactive charts, well, difficult.

I think there is more to say on the topic, because the similarities in recruitment challenges for first-generation, low-income, and minority students tend to look a lot alike, and the mo…

So you think you're going back to the SAT and ACT?

Now that almost every university in the nation has gone test-optional for the 2021 cycle out of necessity, a nagging question remains: How many will go back to requiring tests as soon as it's possible?  No one knows, but some of the announcements some colleges made sounded like the kid who only ate his green beans to get his screen time: They did it, but they sure were not happy about it.  So we have some suspicions about the usual suspects.I don't object to colleges requiring tests, of course, even though I think they're not very helpful, intrinsically biased against certain groups, and a tool of the vain.  You be you, though, and don't let me stop you.However, there is a wild card in all of this: The recent court ruling prohibiting the University of California system from even using--let alone requiring--the SAT or ACT in admissions decisions next fall.  If you remember, the Cal State system had already decided to go test blind, and of course community colleges in th…