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Harvard administrators and national education experts yesterday defended the use of standardized college boards in response to a Harvard professor's call for a national boycott of the tests by high school students.
Dr. Warren V. Slack, associate professor of Medicine, in a New York Times editorial last week asked students to "dispense with the notion that the Education Testing Service (ETS) has a handle on meritorious scholarship."
Slack said yesterday the tests required by Harvard and most four-year colleges are "remarkably arrogant, terribly unreliable, and culturally biased," and added he would like to see high school students unite to end standardized college and graduate school entrance examinations through a boycott.
Several Harvard admissions officers said yesterday that although they sympathized with some of Slack's criticisms, the benefits of the tests outweigh their faults.
Dean K. Whitla, associate director of admissions, said yesterday the tests correlate statistically with a student's performance in college, and they "opened up this institution to students all over the country" by creating a national standard.
Slack said high scores on the college boards and good grades in college correlate because colleges use the same criteria and biases as the entrance exams.
Lois Royce, spokesman for the college board, said Slack's "wide ranging and bold assertions" showed he did not know much about the testing industry.
Royce said Slack ignored the facts in calling ETS, a non-profit corporation, a "big business," but Slack said the salaries and assets of the corporation showed "lots of non-profit profits."
A spokesman for the Senate subcommittee on Education, Arts and the Humanities said no public interest groups have lobbied against high concentration and profits in the industry, and these issues are "something the Feds have just gotten into."
Slack said his colleagues on the admissions committee were divided on the issue, but "so far all the kids have liked it."
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