The University of California system has decided to halt its participation in the National Merit scholarship program, one of the more prestigious such scholarships in the nation, based on the program’s reliance upon standardized tests. In actuality, the problem is that the results of the scholarship competition are not politically correct enough for the likes of California.
Staring [sic] in fall 2006, University of California campuses no longer will award National Merit Scholarships because the program relies exclusively on a high-stakes standardized test to determine students’ academic merit, university officials announced today.
Note the word “exclusively” there. I point that out because, well, it’s either a lie or poor journalistic research, as I will show later.
The move is expected to affect hundreds of students whose performance as juniors on the PSAT, a precursor to the SAT college entrance exam, determines whether they are eligible for the National Merit program. The test is used as a first cut to eliminate about 99 percent of the more than 1 million students who take it each year.
UC will continue awarding scholarships to National Merit students to whom it already has promised awards. It had about 600 of them last year and they received about $735,000 in scholarships.
It is kind of them to not immediately welsh on money they promised to current scholars.
The decision by chancellors of the six UC campuses to drop out of the prestigious program follows a recommendation by the Academic Council, the faculty’s executive body, to stop awarding scholarships and admissions preferences to National Merit winners. The faculty body rejected the program saying that using only one test, which has no demonstrated ability to predict college success, is inconsistent with how UC defines merit.
Again the one-test lie. Truth will follow.
“We believe we have better standards for measuring academic merit,” said UC Santa Cruz astronomy professor George Blumenthal, Academic Senate chairman. Those standards include using grades, test scores and a broad array of other factors that make up a student’s entire academic record.
UC Berkeley and Riverside did not participate in the National Merit program. The newest campus, Merced, decided not to take part in advance of its opening this fall.
Berkeley. No surprise there.
“We honor and respect academic achievement, and we are very proud to have many National Merit scholars apply to the University of California,” said UC Provost M.R.C. Greenwood. “The decision is not meant to diminish those students or their accomplishments in any way. This is an issue of ensuring that when the university uses its own resources to fund merit-based scholarships, it does so in a way that is consistent with its own policies.”
I respect the fact that the state university system rightly has the power to decide how to relegate its own funding. I disagree that this decision does not diminish current scholars, as it blatantly states the Cali system believes the current recipients were selected through an unfair process and others more deserving were probably omitted. That has to be the statement or there would be no change.
This is nothing more than political correctness because the California collegiate folks aren’t happy with the make-up of the scholarship recipients, as this story makes clear.
Among University of California undergraduates, for example, 3.1 percent are black and 13.8 percent are Latino. But only 1 percent of the systemâ€™s winners of National Merit Scholarships are black and only 2 percent are Latino. Asian and white students received 45.3 and 39.8 percent of the scholarships, respectively, more than their share of the student body.
Similarly, while 18 percent of University of California students come from families with incomes over $120,000, 33.8 percent of the universityâ€™s National Merit Scholarship winners come from such families.
PC BS carries the day in California, and the one-test lie is used as its foundation. Perhaps it’s time we finally address that repeated falsehood.
The PSAT is taken by more than a million high school juniors each year. About 50,000 of the highest scorers are eligible for the merit awards. Other criteria such as essays, grades and letters of recommendation are used to select winners.
The PSAT is a gateway to semifinalist status. The SAT establishes the threshold towards finalist status, and then recipients are selected based upon prior academic performance, personal communication skills and the input of others. The scholarship is most assuredly not based “exclusively on a high-stakes standardized test.”
I am unhappy with the decision of country’s largest state university system in this matter and fear the effect it may have on the National Merit scholarship program. Oh yeah, I feel I must make the disclaimer that I attended Texas A&M University, at least the first four years, on a National Merit scholarship, the value of which was adjusted upwards because of my low family income. I am white, though, so please feel free to disregard my opinion.