Voluntary Disclosure and the Strategic Behavior of Colleges. Michael Conlin Michigan State University Stacy Dickert-Conlin Michigan State University Gabrielle Chapman Syracuse University UQAM – April 2008. Optional SAT Policies.
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Michael Conlin Michigan State University
Stacy Dickert-Conlin Michigan State University
Gabrielle Chapman Syracuse University
UQAM – April 2008
“I SOMETIMES think I should write a handbook for college admission officials titled “How to Play the U.S. News & World Report Ranking Game, and Win!” I would devote the first chapter to a tactic called “SAT optional.”
The idea is simple: tell applicants that they can choose whether or not to submit their SAT or ACT scores.Predictably, those applicants with low scores or those who know that they score poorly on standardized aptitude tests will not submit. Those with high scores will submit. When the college computes the mean SAT or ACT score of its enrolled students, voilà! its average will have risen. And so too, it can fondly hope, will its status in the annual U.S. News & World Report’s college rankings.”
Colin Driver, President of Reed College, New York Times, 2006
Whether they get 1300 or 1250 doesn’t really tell you anything about them as a person or a student” says Ken Himmelman, Bennington dean of admissions. All the attention to numbers “becomes so crazy it’s almost a distraction.”
Bruno in USA Today (2006)
The thesis, first stated last year by The New Republic, is that colleges are being less than honest about why they abolish requirements that applicants submit their SAT scores. Behind the rhetoric about "enhancing diversity" and creating a more "holistic approach" to admissions, the theory goes, many colleges "go optional" on the SAT to improve their rankings. The logic is rather simple: At an SAT-optional college, students with higher scores are far more likely to submit them, raising the institution's mean SAT score and hence the heavily test-influenced rankings.
Brownstein (2001) in The Chronicle of Higher Education
- Colleges’ Decisions to Accept
- Applicants’ Decisions to Submit SAT I
Each with approximately 1800 students enrolled.
Both report a typical SAT I score in the upper 1200s/1600.
College X: 2 years ≈ 5 years after the optional policy was instituted.
College Y: the year after the optional policy was instituted.
SATII are Subject Exams – 20 of them
Also have High School GPA from colleges but not standardized
Mean = 1,139
Mean = 1,272
Mean = 1,229
Mean = 1,267
Expected SAT I Score
“Fully” Cursed Equilibrium (χ=1)– College infers if applicant doesn’t disclose that his/her expected SAT I score is
“Partially” Cursed Equilibrium (χ=.4 for example)– College infers if applicant doesn’t disclose that his/her expected SAT I score is
(1-.4) [(1100(.3)+1000(.1))/.4]+ (.4)1170 = 1113
Note: High School GPA B is omitted category
Note: White is omitted category
White, Female, HS GPA is A-, Class Rank in top 10%, Private High School, Legacy, Submitted SATII of 600, Submitted SAT I of 1400.
White, Female, HS GPA is A-, Class Rank in top 10%, Private High School, Legacy, Submitted SATII of 600, Did not Submitted SAT I but college infers an SAT I score of 1400 (based on observables to college).
White, Female, HS GPA is B, Class Rank in top quintile, Private High School, Legacy, Submitted SATII of 550, Submitted SAT I of 1100.
White, Female, HS GPA is B, Class Rank is top quintile, Private High School, Legacy, Submitted SATII of 550, Did not Submitted SAT I but college infers an SAT I score of 1100 (based on observables to college).
In the spirit of Eyster & Rabin’s “fully” cursed equilibrium.
Applicants who submit their SAT I score are less likely to be accepted by College X if their SAT I score is less than 1,392 and are more likely to be accepted if their score is greater than 1,392.
Applicants who submit their SAT I score are less likely to be accepted if their SAT I score is less than 1,272 and are more likely to be accepted if their score is greater than 1,272.