March 24, 2023

Universities of California Will Stop Using the SAT and ACT

Typical image of standardized test

  • Court ruling requires immediate suspension of standardized tests requirement
  • The UC system suspended requirement for 2024 applicants
  • Judge justifies ruling
  • Arguments for suspending standardized tests
  • UC expresses disagreement
  • Public Counsel potential further action

Court ruling requires immediate suspension of standardized tests requirement

The 10 University of California (UC) campuses, that enroll more than 280,000 students and 227,000 faculty and staff, have received a court ruling to stop using the SAT and ACT standardized tests as part of their considerations for admissions and scholarships. Alameda County Supreme Court Judge Brad Seligman, who ordered the ruling, argued that standardized tests mostly benefit wealthy students and puts minority students at a disadvantage.

Critics of the standardized tests have long claimed that students with disabilities and minority communities that are less wealthy do not have access to as much resources as wealthy students do. With the added drawbacks of the coronavirus pandemic that has transitioned most educational operations to remote has further exacerbated this inequality as some groups of people are less capable of even taking the tests.

The UC system suspended requirement for 2024 applicants

The UC system decided to remove the requirements for submitting standardized tests in May in light of the coronavirus pandemic for applicants in 2024. However, some of the UC campuses, including UCLA, have kept standardized tests an option for applicants. The campuses that kept the option would have first evaluated applicants without scores but would give those who submitted test scores a second look.

Judge justifies ruling

Seligman argues that this especially puts disabled students at a disadvantage and helps wealthy people because of the lack of testing sites and legally required accommodations. He wrote, “Unlike their non-diabled peers, they do not have the option to submit test scores; even if they did, their chances of obtaining necessary test accommodations are virtually non-existent.” He added, “They get no second look or ‘plus factor’ that non-disabled students are afforded in the admissions process.”

The judge referred to one student with learning disabilities who had recently graduated high school. The student planned to take a gap year because he could not take the SAT. The judge used this student as an example of the minorities that will be disadvantaged by some of the UC’s optional standardized test submissions.

Arguments for suspending standardized tests

The Public Counsel who had filed the lawsuit praised the court ruling. They called the ruling “groundbreaking” and said “the decision recognized that the use of tests at UC campuses would create a two-tier system inaccessible to students with disabilities and ultimately harmful to students.”

UC expresses disagreement

The UC system has expressed disagreement with the court’s ruling. They said in a statement that “UC respectfully disagrees with the Court’s ruling.” They argued that the UC system would like to reserve the ability to allow optional test result submissions so that disadvantaged students like those with disabilities could showcase their academic talent. They stated that this could help them offset lower grades and less honors courses.

They have also stated that no students have been harmed by optional test submissions because the application window for fall 2021 has not yet opened. UC is currently evaluating whether to take further legal actions. They also said that they are “committed to enrolling a student body that reflects the broad diversity of cultural, racial, geographic, and socioeconomic backgrounds characteristic of California.

Public Counsel potential further action

Mark Rosenbaum, the director of the Public Counsel that filed the lawsuit, said that although the organization had only targeted the UC system, they believe that all public and private universities should do this as well. He said, “If other universities don’t follow, we’ll come after them as well” adding that he would be consulting civil and disability rights advocates in other states.

Sydney Boles