UC Regents Chief Again Criticizes Berkeley's Admissions Practices

Times Staff Writers

The chairman of the University of California Board of Regents, John J. Moores, and UC Berkeley officials traded criticism anew Friday over the university's practice of admitting hundreds of freshmen with below-average scores on the basic SAT college entrance exam.

Moores stepped up his criticism of UC Berkeley officials, saying that "one of the mysteries to me is why the university has disparaged the value of the SAT in admissions, even when it drags these poor kids through the number of these tests that it does."

He was referring both to the basic SAT exam and three SAT II subject tests required of all University of California applicants for the freshman class.

"It's just highly disingenuous and misleading for Chancellor [Robert M.] Berdahl and for Berkeley to suggest that the SAT isn't as important as other subjective factors in admissions -- or that it shouldn't be.

"Common sense tells most of us that 't'ain't true," Moores added.

He also released a revised version of his recent report criticizing UC Berkeley's admissions procedures for accepting less-than-qualified students who, he contends, could erode the school's quality.

The revised report asserted that the dropout rate of students who scored 1000 or less on the SAT was two times higher than for the rest of the class admitted for the 2002-2003 school year.

In addition, the document cited statistics showing that the students with low SATs were less likely to maintain "good academic standing." It said they received grades that average half a point lower than their classmates.

In a prepared statement, UC Berkeley fired back that the revised report, a follow-up version of a document disclosed by The Times in early October, "continues to contain misleading data and draws incorrect conclusions about the UC Berkeley freshman admissions process."

The statement contends that the report "distorts what is an impressive first-year success rate for new freshmen admitted with SAT I scores of 1000 or below." It notes that the students may have left for personal or financial reasons, but argues that none left for academic reasons.

The data show that 90.4% returned for the fall 2003 term, compared with 95.1% for the entire entering class. UC contends both are "excellent success" rates compared to other public or selective private universities.

UC Berkeley also said that its admissions practices are consistent with UC Regents' policy and have yielded "the strongest academic class in UC Berkeley history."

Separately, the UC system announced that its president, Robert C. Dynes, has established a 17-member Eligibility and Admissions Study Group. It will examine issues raised by Moores, as well as the impact of state budget cuts and the rising number of students reaching college age in California.

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