Two Scholars Take on the Mismatch Theory

William Kidder, assistant executive vice chancellor at the University of California, Riverside, and Angela Onwuachi-Willig, a professor of law at the University of Iowa, are the authors of a new study in the Texas Law Review that refutes the theory that affirmative action is responsible for lowering graduation rates and post-graduation success for Black students admitted under race-sensitive admissions policies. The article was written as a critique of the book Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It (Basic Books, 2012) by Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor’s Jr. (William Kidder and co-author Cheryl Harris earlier wrote a critique of the mismatch theory in law school admissions for JBHE. You can read that article here.)

The new study shows that the racial graduation rate gap is smallest at the highest-ranked universities where race-sensitive admissions are more likely to be practiced.

onwuachi-willig_angelaProfessor Onwuachi Willig states, “The evidence shows that pushing more African American students to less selective institutions tends to depress their overall degree attainment. Success in college is about more than a student’s test scores and grades. It’s about institutional resources, support structures, and climate on a college campus.”

Professor Onwuachi-Willig is a graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa and the University of Michigan Law School.

The study “Still Hazy After All These Years: The Data and Theory Behind Mismatch,” may be downloaded by clicking here.

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  1. Actually success in school and beyond is very much about test scores and grades. That’s why top employers rely on them, even more so than degrees.

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