(U-WIRE) BERKELEY, Calif. ? Students from high schools with no Advanced Placement classes are traditionally disadvantaged in University of California admissions.

With no AP classes, these students are unable to take the courses that offer them a chance at higher weighted GPAs and more challenging courseloads.

But this disadvantage may disappear if UC chooses to adopt a comprehensive admissions process, which would take emphasis away from raw test scores and GPAs.

UC-Berkeley policymakers are pushing a new comprehensive admissions proposal, one that would shift emphasis away from grades and test scores and focus attention on academic achievements in the context of high schools’ educational resources.

A top student from a high school that offers no AP classes typically would be at a disadvantage compared to a student with AP credit.

But under the comprehensive criteria, the student without AP credit would be preferred over another high school student ? with the same high grades ? who only took a few of the many AP courses available, if all other factors were equal, said Richard Black, UC-Berkeley assistant vice chancellor for admissions and enrollment.

Thus, the comprehensive criteria helps account for differing educational opportunities at high schools statewide ? some that have financial edge over others.

“We’re really looking at students who have initiative, who have taken advantage of opportunities,” said Calvin Moore, chairman of the Admissions, Enrollment and Preparatory Education Committee of the Berkeley division of the Academic Senate.

Catherine Ahn, the ASUC academic affairs vice president, said the new proposal may increase minority enrollment, but the proposal’s architects said they do not expect change in the ethnic and racial composition of the campus.

Ahn said it is possible for a student with a 3.5 GPA from a high school with no AP classes to be considered as equal to a student with a 4.0 weighted GPA who took some but not all AP classes offered at the student’s high school.

“The fact that you come from a good school doesn’t show student initiative ? it shows parent initiative,” Ahn said.

The current admissions system is two-tiered, assigning an academic score and a comprehensive score. The new system would combine the two, giving a single comprehensive score to each student.

In the past, 50 percent of students admitted to UC-Berkeley were enrolled based solely on grades and test scores.

Under the two-tiered admissions process, other students were admitted through a more comprehensive process, which includes consideration of extracurricular activities and leadership skills in addition to grades and test scores.

But Dexter Ligot-Gordon, UC student regent-designate, said he does not think students should be “downgraded” just because they went to good schools.

“Good schools shouldn’t be a disadvantage to students,” he said. “Any parent given the opportunity would probably send their student to an excellent high school.”

Ahn said the proposal would not be “backdoor affirmative action,” as some critics allege. She said the race and socioeconomic status of a student would be taken into account only if the student had faced extremely restricted opportunities because of his or her race and wrote about it in his or her essay.

Moore maintained race would not be a factor in admissions.

“We think the unitary process is a more coherent and better way to evaluate students,” Moore said.



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