Daily Bruin (U. California-Los Angeles)

(U-WIRE) LOS ANGELES ? Some minorities may have an advantage on standardized testing, said David Benjamin, founder and owner of Ahead of the Class, a private education company based in Orange County.

?The SAT II is not a perfect test ? it hasn?t really been studied before,? Benjamin said.

The tests

The SAT II offers the student a choice of tests in writing, math and other variable subjects.

In studies stirred by University of California President Richard Atkinson?s recent proposal to eliminate the SAT I, Benjamin found that the test tends to favor students who are native speakers of a language other than English.

Latinos taking the Spanish test scored substantially higher than Latinos who chose to take a different section, said Wayne Camara, vice president of research at the College Board, a nonprofit membership organization that administers the SAT and other tests.

The score differential is similar with Asian, French and German students taking the tests of their respective languages, Benjamin said.

Nationally, the proportion of Latino students who speak English as their primary language is 38 percent, while 62 percent of Latinos either speak English and another language or another language alone, Camara said.

He added that in California, the percentage of Latinos speaking English as their primary language is probably even lower than 38 percent.

The environment in which a person is raised affects the rate that languages can be learned, possibly contributing to Latinos and other ethnicities scoring well on their respective language exams, despite not being fluent in that language, Camara said.

But Carla Ferri, the UC director of undergraduate admissions, said admissions officers look comprehensively at each student, balancing everything.

Admissions Decisions

Jerry Griffin, an admissions counselor at UC Davis, disagreed, saying that the SAT II is overused in the admissions process.

Because students are scoring highly on SAT IIs, Griffin said that those with a GPA as low as 2.85 to 2.95 are being considered for admission into the UC system when they may not be prepared for college.

Benjamin said that comparing the student choice sections by percentile may be a better method if the foreign language sections are to be included, in order to dissolve bias.

Using standards

A score should count the same if a person scored a 585 in American history and another native Korean speaker scored 736 in Korean since both are in the 50th percentile, Benjamin said.

?The UC schools should [also] specify which Math, level I or II, students should take. This way there will be a standard by which all students can be compared,? Benjamin said.

?Many measures should be used to determine admission ? the more information on students the better,? Camara said.

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