In this article posted on the Pearson Blog, Matthew Gaertner asks the reader to consider questions regarding how College admission boards and America in general define ‘merit,’ and how this affects a student’s trajectory in post secondary education when faced with socioeconomic obstacles.
America has struggled facing up to social and educational inequities… We are a nation obsessed with “merit,” but the narrow measures we use to identify it have produced college campuses that bear little resemblance to the population at large… If part of our problem is an unhealthy over reliance on grades and test scores, part of the solution may be an expanded definition of merit.
Interestingly enough, Colorado’s own CU Boulder has already taken steps in this direction.
CU developed admissions metrics that account for socioeconomic hardship. Implementing these metrics in admissions decisions has paid dividends in terms of both economic and racial diversity, and preliminary results suggest this system’s beneficiaries can handle college-level work. Most importantly, CU has demonstrated that seemingly messy concepts like disadvantage and overachievement can be measured and applied in admissions decisions in a principled, responsible way.
The alternative is business as usual, economic stratification on college campuses, and the continued erosion of inter generational mobility in the U.S.