baylor does it again
"Baylor University is being called 'the poster child for SAT misuse' after the student newspaper revealed an unusual practice: paying admitted freshmen to retake the SAT and offering large financial rewards for those whose scores go up by certain levels."
That's from Inside Higher Ed, reporting today on the scheme unveiled by reporters at the Baylor Lariat. In an effort to increase the incoming freshman class's SAT scores, which have an impact on the university's ratings in U.S. News & World Report, Baylor administrators gave a $300 bookstore credit to freshman who retook the SAT, and gave a $1,000 scholarship to those whose scores went up by 50 points.
John Barry, Baylor's vice-president for marketing and commuications, told the Chronicle of Higher Education that this was just a scheme to hand out some extra scholarship money, but that makes no sense. Baylor already has measures in place to award scholarships. And it's pretty clear from statements like those made by Reagan Ramsower , the vice-president for finance at Baylor, that administrators wanted to use this method to improve Baylor's reputation.
They have accomplished exactly the opposite.
The SAT is a college admissions test. It is not a test for those who have already been admitted to college. As Inside Higher Ed notes, [public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing Robert] "Schaeffer added that giving out scholarships this way violates NACAC standards, among other things. NACAC’s “Statement of Principles of Good Practice” says that colleges shouldn’t 'use minimum test scores as the sole criterion for admission, advising or for the awarding of financial aid.' While the Baylor funds are theoretically given out on a class rank/SAT, the additional $450,000 is now being distributed solely on the basis of changes in SAT scores.)" Yesterday, about 95% of Baylor's faculty senate voted in favor of a motion opposing the practice.
I've been appalled and annoyed by many of the things my alma mater's leadership has done in the twelve years since I first enrolled at the university. But this is beyond the pale. It is unethical, embarassing, and disgusting. As a current student told the New York Times, "'...the people who put forth this decision completely compromised what they say Baylor is about: its Christian values, the integrity of Baylor, the integrity of Baylor 2012.'"
If you have a Baylor degree, the value of your diploma just dropped like the stock market. This stupid action means that other universities won't take Baylor's academic mission as seriously, and won't value the contributions of its faculty and graduates as highly. They will see Baylor as a place that only worries about its rankings, and that will do anything to improve them, no matter how unethical or unseemly it is.
If you're tired of being embarassed by Baylor and its single-minded focus on rankings, I encourage you to call John Barry's office via the Baylor switchboard at 254-710-1011 and Reagan Ramsower's office at 254-710-3554 and let your feelings be known.