Change in Minimum Required Score on the ACT Will Adversely Damage the Black Applicant Pool at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga

Officials at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga are seeking to raise the required minimum score on the American College Testing Program’s ACT test.

At the present time, students seeking admission must achieve a composite score of 17 on the ACT test to be considered for admission. At this current standard, half of all black students who take the ACT are not eligible for admission to the Chattanooga campus. Now, a faculty committee wants to raise the minimum score to 18. This small change would eliminate the opportunity for scores of black students in Tennessee to apply for admission to the university.

Nationwide 11 percent of all black students who took the ACT test had a score of 17. Under the new plan, admissions to the university would be restricted to the 39 percent of all black students that scored 18 or higher on the ACT test.

Dick Gruetzemacher, director of institutional research at the university, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that there is no difference between the graduation rate of students who had a composite score of 17 on the ACT and students who had a composite score of 18. Both groups were equally prepared to handle the curriculum at the university. Therefore, in his view, there is no reason to change the admissions formula, especially since it would have an adverse impact on the black applicant pool.