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Panel Suggests Regents Revamp Outreach Programs In Light of Budget Increase

Experts Find Programs Lead Minorities To College, Not Necessarily to UC

By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
Posted January 26, 2000

Though money for University of California outreach programs tripled in the last four years, the increase has done little to improve minority admission to UC schools, said a panel of experts addressing the UC Board of Regents Jan. 20 in San Francisco.

The panel made their presentation at the request of Regent Ward Connerly in light of a projected $250 million budget for outreach programs in 2000-2001, a $70 million increase from last year.

"Existing programs are motivating students to go to college in greater numbers," said panelist Patricia Gandara, UC Davis education professor and author of a national study on school intervention programs. "But most of these kids are moving to community colleges, not places like the University of California."

And while outreach efforts can be beneficial, she said, the general school experience for most minority students -- who are plagued by limited access to resources, exposure to racism, lack of peer support, decrepit facilities and materials and minimal academic counseling -- remains relatively unchanged. These conditions diminish the effectiveness of outreach.

"Two hours of outreach cannot compensate for six hours of sub-standard education," said Pedro Noguera, a Berkeley professor of education. "We need to have deeper engagement to be successful."

Increased reliance on test scores is another factor affecting the admission of minorities to prestigious universities, said Claude Steele, a Stanford psychology professor. Underrepresented groups generally score lower than their white or Asian counterparts on these aptitude tests, even if they are strong students.

The life circumstance of an individual impacts their performance on these tests," he said. "Minorities often receive differential treatment from teachers, are disciplined more and are tracked away from advanced placement courses. This has a cumulative affect as they move through school, which makes it hard for them to identify with their potential for college."

It's difficult to trust test scores, he said, without understanding what kind of person a potential student is and what they have experienced. At one time, the use of affirmative action helped balance this inequity, said Steele, but since it's demise in California, educators need to re-think the importance of tests in admissions. Several Regents suggested banning the use of test scores in admissions at UC.

"If we got rid of the test today, it wouldn't really change who gets into UC," warned Gandara. "We must take a look at our admissions policies."

In comments after the meeting, Chancellor Berdahl said he believed Berkeley's admissions process provided the most comprehensive evalution of individual applicants of any public university in the country.

Berkeley's admission policy was revised after the affirmative ban. Though minority admissions initially dropped, progress has been made in bringing those numbers back up.

To make the most of the $250 million outreach budget, said Noguera, UC programs must help create partnerships between the community, parents and the schools. Peer support, access to rigorous courses and professional development for teachers is also needed to ensure success.

"Outreach is very important and it's going to take time," said Regent William Bagley. "But I'm afraid we're going to lose a whole generation of minorities in the process."

In other action, the Regents heard from Office of the President staff on pending enrollment growth facing all UC campuses. The Regents received reports outlining strategies for dealing with growth and a breakdown of additional students expected at each campus by the year 2010.



January 26 - February 1, 2000 (Volume 28, Number 19)
Copyright 2000, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the
Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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