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College Access

Our current research topics related to college access include college admissions, affirmative action, financing, diversity, and underrepresented students in higher education.

Two thousand-eight marked the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Bakke decision, which legally upheld the consideration of race as a factor in admissions decisions for the purpose of promoting diversity in higher education. Such affirmative action policies have opened the doors of selective colleges and universities to many more minority students than might have otherwise had opportunities. While access to higher education has improved for minorities in this country, that progress is still severely threatened due, in part, to a series of very serious attacks on affirmative action. In 1996, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Hopwood v. University of Texas Law School, ended all considerations of race in admissions, recruitment, and scholarships at the undergraduate and graduate school level at all public institutions under its jurisdiction (i.e., Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana). In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 209, a ballot initiative that also eliminated affirmative action in education, employment, and contracting throughout the state. And, the University of Michigan faced legal challenges in 2003 to both its undergraduate and law school admissions policies that give consideration to race/ethnicity.

 

Recent College Access Research

Research Item Trends in Public School Segregation in the South, 1987-2000
Our analyses show that segregation has remained at very high levels in most Southern states and districts, and has even increased by large amounts in many others. There does appear to be an important trend toward resegregation, but that trend is not uniform across the South. We also find that some trends are masked from one measure of segregation, but revealed by others, stressing the importance of the use of multiple measures and the examination of local situations.
Research Item Who Should We Help? The Negative Social Consequences of Merit Scholarships
From a civil rights standpoint, shifting from need-based to "merit" aid means shifting funds from blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans to whites and Asians, from city and rural residents to suburban residents, from children from one-parent families to those who have two parents.
Research Item A Public Laboratory Dewey Barely Imagined: The Emerging Model of School Governance and Legal Reform
Public school reform raises the prospect of a broader redefinition of our very democracy.
Research Item Diversity Challenged: Evidence on the Impact of Affirmative Action
In the courts and in referenda campaigns, affirmative action in college admissions is under full-scale attack. Though it was designed to help resolve a variety of serious racial problems, affirmative action's survival may turn on just one question--whether or not the educational value of diversity is sufficiently compelling to justify consideration of race as a factor in deciding whom to admit to colleges and universities.
Research Item The Hopwood Decision in Texas as an Attack on Latino Access to Selective Higher Education Programs
This paper looks at the effects of the Hopwood decision on Latino students and examines factors impacting Latino students' access to higher education.
Research Item Diversity and Legal Education: Student Experiences in Leading Law Schools
This study reports on the experiences of students captured in a high response-rate survey administered by the Gallup Poll at two of the nation's most competitive law schools, Harvard Law School and the University of Michigan Law School, as well as through data collected through an email/internet survey at five other law schools. The data indicate that the Supreme Court was correct in its conclusions about the impact of diversity in Bakke and earlier higher education decisions.
Research Item Reconfiguring Admissions to Serve the Mission of Selective Public Higher Education
This paper first spells out several of these consequences of basing admissions solely on igh-stakes standardized, norm-referenced tests . It then considers whether HSSNRTs are technically adequate to justify such consequences. Next, it offers a principled resolution to the debate between advocates of score-ranked admissions and proponents of diversity.
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