Your editorial of 11-04 questions Dr. Michael Abrams’ statement, “There are not enough minority students to provide the number of students we want with 1000 SAT scores.”
Those who have examined educational statistics know that there is a real basis for Abrams’ statement, often discussed as “the black achievement gap.” The following comes from a FAMU Board of Trustees document of 3/17/04:
“Any cursory overview of African American high school graduates in Florida would clearly reveal that there is an insufficient pool of African American students with the necessary academic preparation to progress through most college curricula without some degree of difficulty. The pool of African Americans from Florida high schools who make a score of 1010 on the SAT or 21 on the ACT is far too small to satisfy the fierce competition for these students in the State University System and in the nation as a whole…
“When we combine the total number of high school African American graduates who made the minimum admission score to a university in the State University System on both the SAT and ACT, we have a grand total of only 3,310. Since many of these students take both the SAT and ACT, it is safe to say that the number 3,310 decreases significantly.”
Although FAMU could find other high-scoring applicants in other states, FAMU’s main mission, as a state-supported university, is to serve students in Florida. However, all African American high school graduates in Florida with a high enough SAT score to meet FAMU’s minimum would probably not fill the FAMU freshman class.
As a result, FAMU has an unusually high percentage (more than 40% in a recent year) of “special admissions” students who did not have the minimum SAT (or ACT) scores. The effect this situation has on the university is unclear and is the subject of an ongoing discussion.
We can like these figures or not, but, according to the Board of Trustees, they are real.
I hope FAMU student media will publish some articles on the achievement gap, exploring what it is, what it means, what is thought to cause it, and what, if anything, needs to be done.
Anyone concerned with this situation should consult the books, “No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning,” by Stephan Thernstrom and Abigail Thernstrom and “The Black-White Test Score Gap,” by Christopher Jencks and Meredith Phillips.
Dr. Gerald GrowProfessor of Journalism