Citizens' Scholarship Foundation Does it Right

University Testing

While the College Board, ETS, and National Merit stubbornly refuse to abandon the PSAT as their sole semifinalist selection device, claiming it is needed for efficiency, the country's other major college tuition awards competition has moved even further away from reliance on test scores. The Citizens' Scholarship Foundation of America (CSFA), which gives out more than $35 million annually through 700 local Dollars for Scholars chapters, has issued a new program guide making the use of ACT or SAT results to choose winners completely optional.


In the past, Dollars for Scholars campaigns have been discouraged from using test scores for more than one-sixth of their overall selection factors. Now local chapters have a choice of whether to use SAT/ACT scores at all. The new CSFA manual notes, "Recent studies have raised serious questions about the impartiality of these tests, suggesting that family income, race and gender may have an inordinate effect on test performance."


Where test scores are not used, winners are selected on the basis of scholastic performance (grades or class rank) and the applicant's personal data (including work experience, community service, school activities/honors, and future goals). The CSFA manual offers simple rules for assigning numerical values to these factors and combining them into a rating formula.


Not surprisingly, this more comprehensive award selection system produces a fairer mix of winners. CSFA reports indicate that more than half its scholarships go to females (see Examiner, Summer 1994).


CSFA, PO Box 297, St. Peter, MN 56082.