College admissions officers face a rapidly changing policy environment where court decisions have limited the use of affirmative action. At the same time, there is mounting evidence that commonly used signals of college readiness, such as the SAT/ACTs, are subject to race and socioeconomic bias.
This study investigates the efficacy and equity of college admissions criteria by estimating the effect of multiple measures of college readiness on freshman college grade point average and four-year graduation. The authors take advantage of a unique institutional feature of the Texas higher education system to control for selection into admissions and enrollment.
The study finds that SAT/ACT scores, high school exit exams, and advanced coursework are predictors of student success in college. However adding SAT/ACT or high school exit exam criteria to a rank-based admissions policy significantly decreases enrollment among minorities and other groups, with the most negative effects generated by the SAT/ACT, while inducing only minimal gains in college GPA and four-year graduation rates.