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Affirmative Action is the Desegregation Program for Higher Education, Not a Preference

Standardized test scores are not a race-neutral
admissions criteria. Without, affirmative action, they give
a preference to white students.
In their arguments, the opponents of affirmative action constantly refer to
a grid that shows SAT scores across the top and GPA down the side. They
point out the fact that there are very few URM (under-represented
minority) students in the the upper left hand corner of the grid (highest
GPA combined with highest test scores), and that the few that are,
generally have a high chance of being offered admission. They claim this
demonstrates that URM students are being given a preference.

Quack science
In order to conclude that the grid shows a preference, one must accept the false
presumption that these criteria GPA and SAT/ACT are racially neutral and reflect
academic ability and performance equally across all races. The presumption is patently
UNTRUE. Standardized tests reflect the racial inequalities and biases in our

Built-In Bias
Part of the racial bias of the SAT is built into the statistical methods used to create the
test each year. As explained by Emory University Professor and Psychometrician
Martin Shapiro in the trial testimony of Grutter v. Bollinger
(http://ueaa.net/transcript/08-020601-shapiro-rosner-escobar.txt) ETS (Education
Testing Service) places unscored sample questions on their tests each year and then
does a statistical analysis to determine what demographic answered those questions
correctly to decide whether or not to include those questions in future tests. If the
demographic which has historically done well on the test overall in the past correctly
answers the sample question, it is used in future tests. If the demographic (lower
income and URM students) that historically has NOT done well on the test answers
those sample questions correctly, the question is NOT used on future tests.

SAT/ACT/LSAT/MCAT/GRE = white preference tests
ETS does not dispute the basic facts. It is not necessarily done out of racist intent, but
for statistical consistency so that each test, each year, measures more or less the
same thing and thus a certain score means the same thing over the years. On the other
hand, ETS has known of the disparate impact of its methodology, and has chosen to do
nothing. It is why the use of standardized tests in admissions should be eliminated.
Standardized tests are the sentinel at the door of higher education keeping black,
Latino/a, Native American, and Asian students from many countries (Filipinos, Pacific
Islanders, Hmong, etc.) out.

Study Proves that Black and White Students With Identical
Academic Performance Have Huge Test Score Discrepancy
Another way of demonstrating the bias of standardized tests was shown in a 1998 study performed for the co-defendants
in Grutter. David White and Bill Kidder (http://ueaa.net/transcript/11-020901-garcia-white.txt) refined a previous study of
19,000 college students that graduated from elite colleges who then took the LSAT. They paired white and black, and
2011 College-Bound California
Seniors Average SAT Scores by
Ethnic Group
American Indian 1479
Asian American 1624
Black 1318
Mexican American 1356
Puerto Rican 1472
Other Hispanic or Latino 1323
White 1643

Family Income

Less than $20,000/year 1327
$20,000 - $40,000/year 1405
$40,000 - $60,000/year 1476
$60,000 - $80,000/year 1530
$80,000 - $100,000/year 1581
$100,000 - $120,000/year 1612
$120,000 - $140,000/year 1627
$140,000 - $160,000/year 1653
$160,000 - $200,000/year 1671
More than $200,000/year 1751

First Language

English 1565
Another Language 1429


Female 1494
Male 1537

Source: Calculated fromCollege Boards
2011 College-Bound Seniors State Profile
Report: California

In 1997, black students from
families with incomes between
$80,000 and $100,000 did in fact
score lower on the SAT than did
white students from families
with incomes of less than

- Journal of Blacks in Higher
Education, Summer 1998, p. 6
white and Latino students who graduated from the same elite college, in the same major, and had the same GPA within a
10th of a point i.e. they paired white and URM students who had demonstrated identical academic achievement, and
then compared their standardized test scores.

They found a huge racial gap in test scores - between black and white students, black students scored 9.2 points lower
than their white peers with the same GPA, a score gap that represents the difference between being admitted or rejected
not just a difference of which tier of law school they might gain admittance to. The difference between white and Latino
students was 7.0 also significant. Clearly, test scores dont represent academic ability.

SAT Does Not Predict Academic Success
The University of Texas systems abandonment of the SAT requirement for the top
10 percent of every high school (according to GPA) has led to an increase in
academic success. In 1997, the UT system began admitting the top 10 percent of each
Texas high school, regardless of their SAT scores. Since then,the average SAT of
these top 10 percent students has gone down from 1242 to 1212, but their average
first-year GPA has risen. Also, these top 10 percent students, in terms of academic
performance in college, have outperformed non-top 10 percent students with SAT
scores that are 200 to 300 points higher. (University of Texas-Austin Admissions

The Effects of Test Prep
Statistical analysis also shows that URM students score slightly higher than white students on the most difficult questions,
and worse on what are considered the easiest questions. The explanation generally offered to explain this trend is that
minority students tend to second-guess themselves much more than white students. They think they are being tricked
when they see questions that seem too obvious -as a result of their life experience with racism. There are other facts that
highlight the fact that standardized tests are not racially neutral . One of them is the effect of test prep or the lack thereof.
White students, for reasons of cost and information, have far greater access to test prep classes that substantially boost

Stereotype Threat
When capable black college students fail to perform as well as their white
counterparts, the explanation often has less to do with preparation or ability than
with the threat of stereotypes about their capacity to succeed. Stanford Sociology
Professor Claude Steele has dubbed this dynamic stereotype threat
(see: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1999/08/thin-ice-stereotype-
threat-and-black-college-students/4663/). Professor Steele carried out studies that
have been successfully reproduced by other researchers that show that the threat
of negative stereotypes about ones race causes test anxiety that has a
significantly negative affect on test performance. In plain language, when black
or Latino students sit down to take a high-stakes test, they carry the burden of
feeling they must disprove all the negative stereotypes about their race, a burden which white students do not shoulder.
As a result of this same dynamic, studies show that the highest performing minority students i.e. those that
care the most about their performance exhibit the greatest disparity between their general academic
performance and their test scores.

The Real Preferences: Invisible to Those That Most Enjoy Them
These arguments undermine the assumptions of the opponents of affirmative action, and those that so wrongly apply the
term preferences to minority students when, if you look at real society in the most concrete, rather than abstract
terms who gets the best educational opportunities, who get the best healthcare (even among those who are insured), who
gets the longest prison sentence for the same offense, etc. it is obvious that white people are the ones who receive
preferences. Its just that the preferences are so much a part of dominant culture, and so universal, they are invisible to
those who enjoy them.

Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any
Means Necessary (BAMN) BAMN.com (510) 502-9072 california@bamn.com ASUC-sponsored