The Year’s Top 10 Higher Education Stories

As 2019 winds to a close, it’s time to reflect on the year’s biggest news in higher education. Here’s my top-10 list, dominated by several events involving college admissions.

In the largest college admissions scandal in history, a federal investigation led to approximately 50 indictments of wealthy parents and their co-conspirators who used a variety of nefarious schemes, including bribes, fraudulent SAT/ACT scores, and faked athletic resumes to gain their children’s admission to elite colleges.

Many of the defendants have pled guilty and been sentenced, but others — like actress Lori Laughlin — still await trial. The scandal ignited a continuing national debate about how advantages of wealth and myths of meritocracy affect access to college.

In May, the College Board announced it would supply what was dubbed an “adversity score” that would place students’ SAT scores in the context of their socioeconomic circumstances. Just a few months later, following criticisms of the index from many quarters, the College Board withdrew it, when David Coleman, CEO of the College Board admitted, “The idea of a single score was wrong. It was confusing and created the misperception that the indicators are specific to an individual student.” It also rekindled criticisms of standardized testing in general.

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