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Barriers to admission (Kovacs, 2022)

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posted on 08.02.2022, 21:51 by Thomas Kovacs
Purpose: A retrospective review of speech-language pathology graduate school applications was conducted to identify ways in which the application process may act as barriers to admission for three populations of underrepresented students: students who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color; first-generation college students; and students with low socioeconomic status.
Method: Graduate school applications were analyzed to identify application components that act as barriers to admission. The data set included application data from one program that uses composite cutoff scores and demographics in admissions decisions. Quantitative methods were used to probe for evidence of three types of barriers: barriers to application, group differences, and differential predictive validity. Applicants from underrepresented populations were compared to applicants from overrepresented populations.
Results: Applicants from underrepresented populations were more likely to submit late or incomplete applications. Group differences were found for grade point averages (GPAs) and Graduate Records Examination (GRE) percentiles, but not for letters of recommendation or personal statements. All application components made significant contributions to decisions about initial application results. Differential predictive validity was found in the analysis of initial application results. For letters of recommendation, GPAs, and personal statements, group-specific regression lines with the same slopes were found for applicants from underrepresented populations and applicants from overrepresented populations. For GRE percentiles, group-specific regression lines had different slopes.
Conclusions: This barrier assessment found quantitative evidence of several barriers to admission for applicants from underrepresented populations. These barriers help perpetuate the lack of diversity in the profession. Actionable steps to mitigate barriers are proposed.

Supplemental Material S1. Instructions, scoring tables, and scoring rubrics for graduate school application components used by the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the 2017–2018, 2018–2019, and 2019–2020 application cycles.

Kovacs, T. (2022). Assessing barriers to graduate school admission for applicants from underrepresented populations in a master’s level speech-language pathology program. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1044/2021_AJSLP-21-00124


This research was supported by the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire.