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March 18, 2002

Regents scrutinize SAT I test

By Diane Ainsworth, UC Berkeley Office of Communications

Last week's meeting in San Francisco of the UC regents included a lively discussion of the pros and cons of dropping the SAT I test, as well as the appointment of a new Regent.

The Regents held a three-and-a-half-hour special open session on the SAT I test, which is used along with other aptitude tests in the undergraduate admissions process. At issue is its validity as an indicator of academic achievement and promise.

Dropping the SAT I from the UC undergraduate admissions process was first suggested by UC President Richard Atkinson in February 2001. He asked UC to re-examine the usefulness of the SAT I and to consider devising a new array of tests that would more closely match what students are learning in high school.

Dorothy Perry, chair of the Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools, presented highlights of a new report addressing Atkinson's request. The board recommends a new testing array, which would include a mandatory examination covering mastery of the fundamental disciplines needed for university-level work. Those disciplines would include language arts (reading and writing, including a writing sample) and mathematics.

The recommendations were met with skepticism from several regents, including Ward Connerly, George Marcus and Monica Lozano. The Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools was asked to present answers to a wide range of questions at the May meeting, to be held at UCLA.

The Regents also announced the appointment of a new Regent, Richard Blum, a prominent financier and husband to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). He chairs Blum Capital Partners, a large financial investment partnership in San Francisco and is also co-chair of the Newbridge Capital investing firm.

''Dick Blum is one of those quintessential Bay Area figures that manages to bridge the divide between, business, politics, education and even religion,'' Orville Schell, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism, said of Blum's appointment to the board. ''He is also someone who is deeply involved in the global world. These traits position him well to be a staunch and effective advocate in the state legislature, the U.S. Congress, among private philanthropists and in the world at-large for higher education.''

Blum fills one of two vacancies on the Board of Regents left by Sue Johnson and William Bagley, whose terms expired March 1. Blum earned his bachelor of arts and MBA degrees from Berkeley.

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