University of California Makes Historic Decision to End Use of the SAT and ACT for Eligibility and Admission to their Campuses
On May 21, 2020, the University of California Board of Regents made a historic decision to end reliance on the use of the SAT and SAT for eligibility and admissions. We applaud UC President Janet Napolitano and the Regents for this bold step in creating a more equitable admissions process that does not rely on racially biased admissions tests.
“The University of California’s decision sends a clear message that biased, pay-to-play admissions tests will no longer be tolerated,” said Michele Siqueiros, Campaign for College Opportunity president. “After years of research pointing to the racial and income biases of these tests that fuel a billion-dollar industry more concerned with profits than fairness, coupled with the recent College Admissions Scandal, it is time for colleges and universities across the country to do more than simply talk about their ‘Commitments to Diversity.’ They must finally act on them by eliminating admissions practices that discriminate based on a student’s zip code, income status, and race/ethnicity.”
What this means for California Students
• The UC is test-optional until 2022, meaning students may send their test scores if they want to. Students who do not send test scores will not be penalized.
• From 2023-24, the UC will not consider test scores for admissions.
• Students can still send their scores for scholarships, course placements, and eligibility for the statewide admissions guarantee during these periods.
• Effective Fall 2021, the SAT Essay and ACT Writing portions will be eliminated as a requirement.
From Summer 2020 until January 2021, the UC will look into developing a new test or modifying an existing test to better assess students. If the UC cannot identify a test or finds that a new test will not be ready by 2025, the UC will continue to suspend standardized testing in admissions.
The SAT and ACT Predict Privilege, Not Aptitude
The use of the SAT and ACT is the real college admissions scandal that has lasted for decades, as students from wealthier backgrounds can buy better test scores. Families that have the financial means to take the tests multiple times and pay for expensive tutors and test prep have an advantage, which produces socioeconomic and racial/equity gaps in test scores. Talented low-income, first-generation, Latinx, Black, and Native American students—who often do not have access to the same expensive test prep resources—are too often filtered out of admissions. Consequently, the SAT and ACT are better indicators of race, wealth, and privilege than they are of college success or aptitude. In contrast, high school GPA is a stronger indicator of college success.
Black & Latinx Students Attend Highly Segregated, Lower-Resourced Schools, Which Impacts College Opportunity
Civil Rights Data Collection, 2015-16.
Over 1,000 colleges and universities across the nation have eliminated the requirement of admissions tests in their application process. But California lags behind.
Since the passage of Proposition 209 of 1996—a law that prohibits the use of affirmative action in college admissions—California’s university systems have not been able to use race as a consideration in admissions processes. If California prohibits the affirmative use of race in admissions, the use of admissions tests that are proxies for race in admissions should also be prohibited; especially those that are discriminatory.
Racist policies and practices like Proposition 209 and the use of SAT and ACT, coupled with the historic racial segregation of K-12 schools and lack of equitable resources in California schools have led to an alarming lack of representation of Black, Latinx, and Native American students at the University of California (UC). Only 1 in 4 seats at the UC are being offered to California’s Black, Latinx, and Native American students.
The UC is at a pivotal moment with an unparalleled opportunity to make history and set an example for the nation by designing a more equitable admissions process.
Inside Higher Ed
Geiser & Santelices, 2007: “Validity Of High-School Grades In Predicting Student Success Beyond The Freshman Year: High-School Record vs. Standardized Tests as Indicators of Four-Year College Outcomes”