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In a Move to Promote Equity, U of California to End the Use of SAT/ACT

After a six-hour debate, the University of California’s (UC) regents on Thursday voted to scrap the SAT/ACT standardized exam requirement for undergraduate admission by phasing it out through 2024 and completely eliminating it for California students by 2025, reported the Los Angeles Times and The Mercury News.

University of California president Janet NapolitanoUniversity of California president Janet Napolitano

UC has been debating the use of SAT/ACT for a while now, even as there has been growing opposition to standardized tests by advocates who say they put vulnerable students at a huge disadvantage given their socioeconomic inability to prepare for them. The decision by UC, one of the country’s top public university systems, is expected to have a ripple effect across the higher education landscape.

UC president Janet Napolitano, too, has talked about “the correlation of the SAT and the ACT to the socio-economic level of the student, and in some case[s], the ethnicity of the student.”

In fact, the decision by the UC regents appears to have been informed by Napolitano’s recommendation from last week. In an ‘action item’ memo to members of the university’s board, Napolitano recommended the suspension of SAT/ACT as a requirement for admissions until 2024. She also recommended the institution creates a new test “that better aligns with the content UC expects applicants to have learned and with UC’s values.”

UC’s senate task force recommended earlier this year that the system keeps the SAT and ACT requirement while it looks for alternatives.

In remarks to the regents Thursday, Carol Christ, chancellor of UC’s Berkeley campus expressed strong views against the use of standardized tests for admission.

“I don’t favor the requirement … for application for admission,” Christ said. “I’ve been convinced by the research that shows its strong correlation with socio-economic status. I’m also dismayed by the anxieties created by the testing culture…”

John Perez, chair of the regents, said ending the tests’ requirement is the right way forward for UC.

“It is an incredible step in the right direction toward aligning our admissions policy with the broad-based values that the university has identified,” said John Perez, chair of the regents.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, UC has already removed the SAT/ACT requirement for fall 2021 admissions.

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