The president of the Educational Testing Service, which administers the College Board entrance examinations, said there is a flaw in the NCAA's controversial new requirement of a minimum score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test for first-year eligiblity in Division I.
"How do you properly use a nationally standardized admission test?" said Gregory Anrig, president of the Educational Testing Service of Princeton, N.J. "It's supposed to be used in combination with other information. The test score is not an absolute. There are better options available to accomplish the same objective and do so more fairly."
The NCAA's tougher stance on academics, known as Proposition 48, requires a minimum score of 700 out of a possible 1,600 on the SAT or a minimum score of 15 out of 36 on the American College Test, and a 2.0 average in a core curriculum of 11 academic courses in high school, including three years of English and two each of math, social sciences and natural sciences. The rule becomes effective in August of 1986.
Apparently, the 700 figure was selected arbitrarily by members of the ad hoc athletic committee of the American Council on Education, which drafted and pushed passage of Proposition 48. According to the testing service, 51 percent of black males and 60 percent of black females score less than 700 combined on the math and verbal portions of the SATs.
This has been an emotional issue for three weeks, since the eve of the NCAA convention in San Diego when the leaders of 16 historically black colleges and universities said the tests were discriminatory and culturally biased against blacks, minorities and others from low socio-economic backgrounds. After the proposal passed, black education leaders called the rule "patently racist." They said their options included lawsuits and withdrawal from the NCAA, as well as the ACE.
These educators and such national black leaders as the Rev. Jesse Jackson of Operation PUSH and Benjamin Hooks of the NAACP see the new rule as closing a door to blacks. Jesse Stone Jr., the president of Southern University, said the flaw in Proposition 48 could be corrected by revising the tests to make them "fair and relevant."
The ETS position is that the test is not culturally biased and that blacks have lower test scores because of economic factors, not racial ones. "To say the test is culturally biased is not true," said Anrig. "It's a good indicator of performance in the first year of college--good, but not perfect . . .
"But there has been no talk of revising SATs. That's the wrong part of the problem. That's like saying we can get rid of a virus infection by throwing away the thermometer . . .The cause is unequal educational oppportunity; it's a social problem, not a testing problem."
Said George Hanford, president of the College Board, whose member colleges include many of those represented on the ad hoc committee:
"We understand and support the NCAA's desire to insure that college athletes, like other students, are able to do the academic work required of them, and the need for reasonable, fair and objective measures for determining this ability. However, the way in which the SAT is used is of equal importance, and in this connection we are concerned that it should not be used in ways that have the practical effect of working against the interests of minority students."
Both the Educational Testing Service and the College Board have offered to assist the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) with data and any other help it desires in formulating a compromise that will be received favorably by the presidents of many of the major-college football schools on the ACE committee and by the presidents of the 16 historically black schools in Division I.
The NAFEO board is meeting Tuesday in Atlanta and has invited both the Rev. Jackson and Hooks to be there. The test score issue was a concern of NAFEO prior to the NCAA convention, because of what they consider inequities in the National Teacher Examination, also administered by ETS.