Monday, December 13, 2010

Oxford’s Research-Based Affirmative Action

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 10, 2010, 2:58 pm
By Richard Kahlenberg
A large-scale British study, released last week, gives new empirical support for the drive to provide affirmative action to “strivers,” less advantaged students who, despite obstacles, perform fairly well academically. The research finds that students who attended regular “comprehensive” (public) secondary schools did better in college than those who scored at the same level on standardized admissions exams and attended “independent” (private) or “grammar” (selective public) schools.
Pointing to the study last week, Oxford University’s dean of undergraduate admissions, Mike Nicholson, created waves when he declared that students who do well at poor performing secondary schools “may have more potential” than those from more-advantaged schools, and that universities should consider the context in which students compile an academic record. In the United States, universities have claimed for years that admissions officers consider socioeconomic obstacles a student has overcome, though evidence suggests that on average, at the most selective 146 institutions, they do not.

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