The University of California Board of Regents unanimously voted this week to suspend all SAT and ACT testing requirements for college freshman applicants until 2024, and will move to eliminate the requirement completely by the end of that five year period. The plan was originally proposed by the university’s system’s president, Janet Napolitano, and is being viewed as a landmark decision coming from one of the country’s most prestigious universities.
“Today’s decision by the Board marks a significant change for the University’s undergraduate admissions. Instead, the UC system – which includes about 280,000 students across the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of California, Berkeley, and seven other undergraduate schools – will focus on creating its own test that better aligns with the content the University expects students to have mastered for college readiness” and its values, according to a news release from the university.
The approval plan will specifically make sending all SAT and ACT test scores optional through 2024, a policy that a few other prestigious universities in America have also begun implementing within the past few years; such as American University in Washington DC. By 2025, the board claims that testing requirements in general would be completely eliminated for prospective college students.
“I think this is an incredible step in the right direction toward aligning our admissions policy with the broad-based values of the University. I see our role as fiduciaries and stewards of the public good and this proposal before us is an incredible step in the right direction,” UC Board of Regents Chair John A. Pérez said in the release.
For the interim years until 2025, the board claims that there will be a “test-blind” process for admissions, which means that SAT and ACT scores won’t be used against a person in terms of admissions, but they still can be used to help students get certain scholarships or course placements.
The University of California’s system vote could be a major turning point in terms of testing scores being included in all college applications country-wide. It’s been a heavy topic of discussion within the past decade especially, as many universities have been fairly public about how little they actually care about standardized testing scores. They’re more interested in seeing the level of course work students completed in their preliminary education, and what kinds of extra-curriculars they are involved in.
Testing score submissions have also been viewed as archaic and biased against low-income and minority students, since every test taker must check off what race/socioeconomic status they are. Along those same lines there’s been countless arguments that the SAT and ACT favor wealthier students who have access to preparatory courses and can afford to attend them. In fact, last year a civil rights advocacy group filed a lawsuit against the University of California system specifically because of the way they use testing scores for admissions.
“SAT and ACT requirements discriminate against students who can’t afford testing preparation. These tests are incredibly sensitive to socioeconomic status and race and have nothing to say about the individual,” said Alisa Hartz, an attorney with Public Counsel, the Los Angeles-based pro bono firm that filed the suit on behalf of students and advocacy groups.
The University of California system will begin implementing their suspension policy with the start of the fall 2021 semester, and it will be interesting to see what other major universities and colleges also follow suit.