On Thursday, the University of California (UC) Board of Regents voted to remove the ACT and SAT tests in considering students.
A decision factored by ‘unfair testing’ and admittance scandals
The decision, which affects top nationally ranked Universities such as UC Berkeley and UCLA, will not only extend a decision earlier this year in suspending the tests until 2024, but if the tests don’t meet a “new criteria” that factors in things such as student adversity, they would be removed entirely. The system would then most likely switch a test designed by the UC system that “better aligns with the content the university expects students to have mastered for college readiness.”
Between 2021 and 2024, students can still take the tests if they wish, but they would only factor in grading out-of-state students, scholarship decisions, and course placement.
The changes, originally proposed by UC President Janet Napolitano, were voted for primarily because of a growing movement that calls the tests unfair to poor students and minority students. The University of California itself has been sued in the past year over the charged racial and financial bias. According to critics, poorer students can’t afford to take both the SAT and ACT, let alone purchase expensive test prep materials and courses. Many schools, especially those in minority dominated districts, have also been alleged to not be able to teach everything needed for students to be prepared for the tests before taking them.
“These tests are extremely flawed and very unfair,” said Lieutenant Governor and Board of Regents member Eleni Kounalakis. “Enough is enough.”
Opponents of the tests have also said that their removal would also help better critically evaluate students in the wake of major college cheating scandals.
Proponents say that test removal will be even worse
Proponents of the SAT and ACT tests have noted that the UC system striking out on its own can even be more disastrous for those hoping to get in.
“Almost every major university uses these tests,” noted educator Abigail Shepherd-Cruz, who helps students prepare for the tests each year. “If the University of California uses their own, that’s just another test to study for. People don’t just apply only to UC schools, so it would give many students a choice between going to UC or non-UC schools. It’s incredibly unfair.”
“They say the tests are unfair, but now they’re putting vulnerable students even more at risk. They’re insane.”
The College Board, who administers ACT and SAT tests, agreed, saying in a statement “Having to take multiple tests will likely cause many of these students to limit their college options much earlier in the college search process.”
According to the New York Times, a California task force also found that “in many cases the tests gave a leg up to black, Latino and low-income students by offering an additional metric for admissions officers who might have rejected them because their grades did not meet the university’s threshold.”
“A lot of schools also receive scholarships of funding to help pay for the tests, especially in poorer area,” noted Shepherd-Cruz.
The University of California system will now join a small group of Universities, led by the University of Chicago, who have rejected the tests. For opponents of the SAT and ACT, it is hoped that the rejection by the UC system could spur other colleges and universities to do the same.
The decision will affect hundreds of thousands of students by 2025, as the UC system currently has over 280,000 students spread over 10 campuses across the state.