Another Day In The Woke Era? University Of California To No Longer Use Standardised Tests For Admission

by Swarajya Staff - Nov 22, 2021 02:36 PM +05:30 IST
Another Day In The Woke Era? University Of California To No Longer  Use Standardised Tests For AdmissionUniversity Of California (wikipedia)
  • University Of California will discontinue use of standardised tests (SAT or ACT) for admission purposes.

    The university stated that the professors could not discover an alternative exam that would avoid the 'biased' findings.

    In 2018, it was found that cummulative SAT scores for Asian and White students averaged more than 1100, while all other groups averaged less than 1000.

After years of deliberation, the University of California (UC) has announced that it will no longer use any standardised test for admissions choices, stating that professors could not discover an alternative exam that would avoid the 'biased' findings that forced administrators to cancel the SAT last year.

The decision was made at a Board of Regents meeting last week, when UC Provost Michael Brown informed the regents that the university would discontinue use of the tests (SAT or ACT), confirming a faculty recommendation made in October that UC discontinues use of standardised testing for admission purposes.

As reported by the Los Angles Times, “UC will continue to practice test-free admissions now and into the future.”

Hundreds of colleges and universities in the United States have temporarily suspended the use of the SAT and ACT during the Covid-19 pandemic, while others have decided to stop using such tests as part of their admissions procedures permanently due to concerns about possible bias against racial minorities and students from low-income backgrounds.

It was found that in terms of race, cumulative SAT scores for Asian and White students averaged more than 1100 in 2018, while all other groups averaged less than 1000. In terms of income, a 2015 study indicated that children with family incomes of less than $20,000 performed the worst on the test, while those with family incomes of more than $200,000 performed the best—and this is not just about a few points.

The average reading score for students whose family income is less than $20,000 is 433, but the average for those whose family income is more than $200,000 is 570.

The University of California

However, because of UC's reputation, its decision to stop utilising the exams and give up on finding alternatives, for the time being, is expected to lead to similar conclusions at other institutions, furthering the anti-test movement that has become a national trend in America.

The issues with the tests have been going on for years. It all started in 2018 when former UC President Janet Napolitano ordered the Academic Senate to look into the university's use of the tests and make some recommendations.

The faculty responded in February 2020 with a recommendation that the university continues to use the tests for admissions. However, such viewpoint was met with vehement resistance, as well as litigation charging that the examinations were unfairly biased against minorities and low-income candidates.

Following that the former UC President suggested that the institution no longer use the SAT or ACT in undergraduate admission choices. Her proposal was one of the most significant steps in the continuing drive among colleges to go to test-optional admissions at the time. Moreover, Napolitano requested that the institution's standardised exam (ACT/SAT) requirement for undergraduate admissions be suspended until 2024, providing the university time to adapt or design a new test.

The Board then voted unanimously to suspend the standardised test requirement for all California applicants until fall 2024, with the understanding that UC would eliminate the standardised testing requirement for the students if a new test could not be found or developed that met its criteria in time for fall 2025 admission.

Last spring, UC signed a settlement that ended a 2019 lawsuit in which the plaintiffs, a coalition of students and advocacy groups, claimed that the tests were illegally discriminatory against applicants based on race, wealth and disability and that they were denied equal protection under the California constitution. As part of the deal, UC agreed to stop using the ACT and SAT.

In April 2021, new UC President Michael V Drake charged a committee of the Academic Senate with determining if the Smarter Balanced statewide assessment, which is utilised for California public school students, could be an acceptable replacement for the SAT and ACT.

When the committee's report was finished in October, it came back with no answer.

According to the committee, using the state exam to make admission decisions might help some underprivileged students who test well but have lower grades, but it would disproportionately benefit Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and could lower admission rates for Black, Latino, and low-income applicants.

The committee also discovered that standardised examinations would only provide a modest amount of incremental validity in predicting first-year university grades while simultaneously reducing the diversity of exceptional applicants.

It suggested that UC take additional steps to increase fairness in admissions, such as developing stronger cooperation with the K-12 system (from kindergarten to 12th grade), expanding access to college-preparatory courses, and increasing state financing for academic preparation programmes and admissions staff training.

The regents and opponents of standardised testing applauded the latest decision. As per the LA Times, Board Chair Cecilia Estolano described her vote to eliminate SAT and ACT testing requirements as one of her proudest moments as a regent, adding that the university now needed to focus on how to better prepare students for UC admission and support them once they were admitted.

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