Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Secondary Education



Committee Chair

Dr. Brian Lawler

First Committee Member

Dr. Jillian Ford

Second Committee Member

Dr. Jihye Kim


GRE is a standardized assessment used by school leaders in the US to predict student success in graduate school during admission (Colarelli, Monnot, Ronan, & Roscoe, 2012). But it underpredicts graduate school success, acting as a barrier to higher education for marginalized groups (e.g. Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and American Indian/Alaska Native students; Stewart & Haynes, 2016), thus the use of the GRE is criticized. ETS and other proponents of using the GRE claimed that the GRE is an objective way to compare applicants to one another without bias. Those who opposed the GRE argue that the GRE is not a valid predictor of graduate school success among underrepresented groups.

The findings in the literature were inconsistent when determining if the GRE was a valid measure of graduate school success. Few research studies examining the validity of the GRE as a predictor disaggregated the data based on characteristics such as race/ethnicity, age, gender, socioeconomic status, etc. Among the few studies that did disaggregate by marginalized groups, the findings were that the GRE was not a valid predictor of graduate school success for these groups (Cahn, 2015; Hughey, 1995). The present study aimed to determine whether the GRE is a valid predictor of graduate school success among black students at a large, public, diverse university in the Southeast. Specifically, the purpose of this quantitative research study was to investigate how well the GRE predicts graduate school success across race and gender among graduate students within a variety of majors in education using a critical theoretical standpoint in the nascent tradition of QuantCrit (Gillborn, Warmington, & Demack, 2018). The application of a Critical Race Theory framework to this quantitative research helped to gain a better understanding of how the GRE affect access to higher education for marginalized groups by considering the adversities and challenges faced by black students in obtaining higher education, and the role that white supremacy might play on a black student’s journey toward higher education attainment.

The methodology was split into two distinct phases: phase one—exploration of predictive relationships between variables; and phase two—application of CRT principles in the research context and findings for critical analysis. Pearson’s correlations and multiple linear regression were used to determine the association between the predictor variables and the criterion variables. The results of the analyses in phase one failed to reject both null hypotheses, suggesting that GRE verbal (GREV) and GRE quantitative (GREQ) do not significantly predict graduate GPA (GGPA) among black students. Further, undergraduate GPA (UGPA) did not significantly predict graduate school success as measured by the GGPA. Finally, the effects of UGPA or GRE scores on GGPA vary significantly when disaggregated by race/ethnicity, gender, and degree level.

The use of CRT provided insight to the challenge's students face along with a deeper understanding of experiences encountered by black students in higher education. The CRT framework used may provide insight into inequalities associated with using the GRE for admission into graduate school. Specifically, one challenge black students face is accessing a graduate education. The GRE is considered a barrier to graduate school for black students.

This study has the potential to inform college and university admission coordinators how well several commonly used admission criteria predict graduate school success and the limitations of the GRE to predict graduate school success among black students