2008 03 10_ncid-dem_merit


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2008 03 10_ncid-dem_merit

  1. 1. “ Diversity Merit, and Higher Education: Implications for Comprehensive Admission, Pipeline and Retention Strategies” john a. powell Director, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity & Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Moritz College of Law Presentation at the National Center for Institutional Diversity March 10, 2008
  2. 2. Presentation Overview <ul><li>Individualistic merit  Democratic merit </li></ul><ul><li>Non-traditional measures of merit </li></ul><ul><li>Existing plans and programs of interest </li></ul><ul><li>Aligning missions and admissions </li></ul>
  3. 3. Transitioning from Individualistic Merit <ul><li>The way merit is currently used is individualistic . </li></ul><ul><li>This is problematic because cumulative disadvantage is based upon group identity - race. </li></ul><ul><li>Limitations of individualistic merit: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reinforces myth of the ‘American dream’ (hard work  success); stigmatizes those who do not succeed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Marginalized groups do not benefit from a few members being given preference - need interventions that lift up group collectively </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Individualistic merit v. Democratic merit <ul><li>Focuses on past achievements </li></ul><ul><li>Relies on “objective” measures (GPA, ACT/SAT scores, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Fails to account for external constraints, such as structural racism </li></ul><ul><li>Invests in democratic potential </li></ul><ul><li>Considers how students may contribute to society </li></ul><ul><li>Group-level focus </li></ul>
  5. 5. Democratic Merit Aligns with the Goals of Education <ul><li>The U.S. Supreme Court has identified the objectives of public education as “the inculcation of fundamental values necessary for the maintenance of a democratic political system”. </li></ul><ul><li>Preparing students for citizenship has been a stated goal of American education throughout history. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Instill fundamental values and transmit knowledge necessary to partake in our democracy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In 2002, the Supreme Court in Grutter acknowledged the importance of preparing students for citizenship </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Non-traditional Measures of Merit <ul><li>Identify “strivers” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>These students exceed expectations given the quality of their high school and their socioeconomic status. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strivers should be considered in light of their peers at the same or similar schools. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They may perform better in college than their academic record indicates. </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Non-traditional Measures of Merit <ul><li>Diversity capital </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This refers to the unique interests, life experiences, and/or family backgrounds that students possess that enrich the academic atmosphere. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students who possess diversity capital create the opportunity to engage a variety of perspectives, thus creating a dynamic learning atmosphere. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Non-traditional Measures of Merit <ul><li>Create an assessment tool that measures: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Academic preparation and potential </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cultural competence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other competencies related to success in college and democratic participation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The assessment tool should be institution-specific, non-standardized, and free of bias. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Democratic Merit in Action <ul><li>While these three specific non-traditional measures of merit are still being developed, some current plans and programs highlight the concept of democratic merit more generally. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Current Programs <ul><li>Indiana’s 21 st Century Scholars Program </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Low and moderate income students who take and successfully fulfill a good citizenship pledge are guaranteed the cost of 4 years of undergraduate education at a public university (or the equivalent amount for a private university) in Indiana. </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Current Programs <ul><li>Texas Ten Percent Plan </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Admits the top 10% of students from every graduating high school class in the state to a public college or university in Texas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Introduces diversity of race, class, and geography </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prevents certain schools (typically in white, suburban districts) from monopolizing the admissions </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Current Programs <ul><li>Clark University (Worcester, MA) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Worked to revitalize and uplift the local community rather than relocate the university </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Opened its own high school; admitted students by a lottery </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students, many of whom were not meeting grade-level standards prior to entering Clark’s high school, flourished with the support of the university behind them </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Current Programs <ul><li>University of Texas-Austin: President’s Achievement Scholarship </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Embraces “strivers” by offering scholarships to students who have overcome significant adversity while maintaining a strong academic record (compared to their peers) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Utilizes an Adversity Index that includes various indicators for family socioeconomic status, school quality, peer performance, and academic merit </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Current Programs <ul><li>The Posse Foundation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gathers students from public high schools to form multicultural “posses” and attend top-level colleges and universities nationwide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Uses a Dynamic Assessment Model for recruitment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ An innovative approach to identifying exceptional students who might be missed by traditional college admissions processes” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Leadership talent, ability to work in teams with students from different backgrounds, desire for success, etc. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>www.possefoundation.org
  15. 15. Current Programs <ul><li>The Posse Foundation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The concept of a Posse works for both students and college campuses, and is rooted in the belief that a small, diverse group of talented students—a Posse—carefully selected and trained, can serve as a catalyst for increased individual and community development .” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“… the key to a promising future for our nation rests on the ability of strong leaders from diverse backgrounds to develop consensus solutions to complex social problems.” </li></ul></ul>www.possefoundation.org
  16. 16. Aligning Missions and Admissions <ul><li>Institutions should consider what they hope to accomplish in society and admit students who will help make those goals a reality. </li></ul><ul><li>Institutions need to discern what they truly value: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strong test scores, or a strong democracy? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Extensive extracurricular activities, or investments in the wellbeing of a community? </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Alluding to Democratic Merit <ul><li>The “core purpose” of the University of Texas –Austin is “to transform lives for the benefit of society.” </li></ul><ul><li>UC-Berkeley : Among the admissions criteria, evaluators look for students who will “make a special contribution to our society and culture.” </li></ul>
  18. 18. Summary <ul><li>We need to transition from individual merit and consider democratic merit. </li></ul><ul><li>Admissions policies should reward students who are likely to create a more just and democratic society. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Questions or Comments? For More Information, Visit Us On-Line: www.KirwanInstitute.org
  20. 20. Appendix Clarifying Our Educational Goals: K-12
  21. 21. Clarifying Our Educational Goals <ul><li>Which of the following headlines appeared in a daily newspaper? </li></ul><ul><li>1) Capital City Students Show No Gain in Reading, Math — Governor Threatens Takeover </li></ul><ul><li>2) Middletown Schools to Be Taken Over by State for Failure to Develop Good Citizens </li></ul>Kahne, Joseph and Joel Westheimer. “Teaching Democracy: What Schools Need to Do.” Phi Delta Kappan 85.1 (2003): 34-66.
  22. 22. Clarifying Our Educational Goals <ul><li>What do we prioritize? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A 1987 survey found that only 38% of respondents could name all three branches of government. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>BUT </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A separate 1985 poll found that 59% of Americans could name the Three Stooges. </li></ul></ul>Dudley, Robert L. and Alan R. Gitelson. “Political Literacy, Civic Education, and Civic Engagement: A Return to Political Socialization.” Applied Developmental Science 6.4 (2002): 175-182.
  23. 23. Clarifying Our Educational Goals <ul><li>What do we prioritize? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>25% fewer citizens voted in 2003 compared to 1960. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>BUT </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It is not unusual for “American Idol” voting to garner more than 20 million votes, many from young adults. </li></ul></ul>Kahne, Joseph and Joel Westheimer. “Teaching Democracy: What Schools Need to Do.” Phi Delta Kappan 85.1 (2003): 34-66.
  24. 24. Clarifying Our Educational Goals <ul><li>No Child Left Behind – Yearly testing in math, science, and reading, but not social studies or civic education. </li></ul><ul><li>Insufficient civic education leads to a lack of understanding of what may be achieved through political participation. </li></ul><ul><li>Schools instill values in students. Without an emphasis on civic education, it may be implied that democratic participation is unimportant. </li></ul>