BERKELEY, Calif. - A University of California faculty committee is challenging the National Merit Scholarship Program, saying the way it uses a practice test for the SAT to help pick its scholarship winners is unfair.
The committee is asking UC's campuses and officials to rethink their participation in the scholarship program. And what UC faculty members think can have far-reaching implications: This month students across the country took SAT tests that had been overhauled following their objections.
Committee Chairman Michael T. Brown said faculty members object to the program's reliance on the PSAT, a practice test for the SAT, and the program's use of a simple cutoff score to determine eligibility. They also are concerned the process is unfair to some minority and low-income students.
Elaine Detweiler, a spokeswoman for the Illinois-based National Merit Scholarship Program, defended the selection process.
"The fact that it is a competition - there has to be a cutoff score at some point," Detweiler said.
Each year more than a million high school juniors take the PSAT. About 50,000 students move on to the next Merit Scholarship level based on scores. From there, other criteria are used to choose scholarship winners.