Special Session at the January 2014 AAS Meeting: The Proper Use of GRE Scores for Enhancing Diversity and Excellence in Astronomy and Physics Graduate Programs
Organized by Keivan Stassun (Vanderbilt University, Fisk University)
Co-sponsored by the Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy (CSMA), the Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy (CSWA), and the Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)
- Standardized test scores (GREs) are a staple of graduate admissions criteria in physics and astronomy graduate programs. It has long been known that GRE scores are powerfully correlated with gender and ethnicity. New research (Miller 2013) shows that women score on average ~60 points lower than men and African Americans score on average ~150 points lower than Caucasians on the General GRE Quantitative exam. It is common practice in top-tier physics and astronomy graduate programs to adopt a GRE "cutoff" on the quantitative GRE of ~700, either as a matter of policy or else as a subjective but strong weight. The new research shows that applying such a cutoff immediately eliminates more than two-thirds of women, roughly three-quarters of Hispanics, and nearly all African Americans from the applicant pool. This session will present a summary of this important new research (including recent research on the Physics GRE subject exam), will present complementary strategies that have been demonstrated to successfully predict success, and will engage the community in an open discussion of best practices for sustaining a commitment to broadened participation while maintaining standards of excellence focused on successful scientific careers.
- Wednesday, January 8, 10:00-11:30am.
- Session Schedule:
- Presentation by Casey Miller (University of South Florida) on GRE correlations with gender, ethnicity and PhD outcomes
- Presentation by Keivan Stassun (Vanderbilt University, Fisk University) on strategies for assessing student potential for success in graduate school
- Panel discussion on graduate admissions criteria, outcomes, and diversity: Prof. Adam Burgasser (UC San Diego), Prof. John Johnson (Harvard U.), Prof. Heather Morrison (Case Western University), Prof. Greg Walton (Stanford University), representatives from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and NSF.
About the CSMA
The Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy (CSMA) is a standing committee of the American Astronomical Society. The mission of the CSMA is to enhance the participation
of underrepresented minorities in astronomy at all levels of experience. Learn more about the CSMA, what we do, and how to get involved.