Berkeley to Review Low SAT Scores, Admissions

Times Staff Writer

Responding to recent controversy about UC Berkeley's admissions practices, members of a faculty oversight group next spring will review the cases in which admissions officials recommend accepting high school seniors with very low SAT scores.

The head of the faculty oversight group, education professor David S. Stern, disclosed the plan Wednesday at a briefing for reporters on UC Berkeley's admissions procedures.

He said it had not been decided what the cutoff level would be this year on SAT scores that would trigger the faculty reviews. But Stern acknowledged that the effort was prompted by recent disclosures that UC Berkeley had admitted hundreds of freshman over the last two years with SAT scores of 1000 or less -- even as it turned away some students with SATs of 1400 or higher.

Stern and other admissions officials emphasized that University of California policy calls for admission of students who have, among other things, demonstrated high academic or personal achievement or shown exceptional talent. University officials have also said that the academic credentials of this year's freshman class are stronger than ever.

Stern downplayed the significance of the faculty review, comparing it to other customary spot checks that occur at the end of every admissions cycle. "I suspect it won't make much difference at all in actual [admissions] decisions," he said.

"We'll read them individually, and we'll talk about them if it's necessary," he said of the review of admissions decisions.

Stern noted that the faculty decided last year to begin reviews of cases in which students with extremely high scores on college entrance exams were given negative ratings by admissions staffers. The new review, he said, is "an extension of the process."

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