Researchers find substantial drop in use of affirmative action in college admissions

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

University of Washington researchers Grant H. Blume and Mark C. Long have produced the first empirical estimates using national-level data to show the extent to which levels of affirmative action in college admissions decisions changed during the period of 1992 to 2004. Blume and Long's study, "Changes in Levels of Affirmative Action in College Admissions in Response to Statewide Bans and Judicial Rulings," was recently published online in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis (EEPA), a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

The authors find a significant decline nationally in the level of affirmative action used by selective public colleges from 1992 to 2004. This decline is attributable to institutions in the eight states affected by statewide affirmative action bans or Circuit Court rulings during the period (Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Washington).

While selective public institutions in the eight states, which Blume and Long label "post affirmative action states," ceased giving preferences to minority applicants in their admissions decisions, selective public institutions in other states continued to do so.

"There's been a lot of debate about whether or not states are complying with the law," said Blume. "Our research shows that they are."

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