Will the UC System Drop SAT, ACT requirement?

Leaders of the University of California system appear strongly inclined to drop the requirement that applicants to UC campuses take the SAT or ACT test, heeding the argument that it hurts the chances of Latino and African-American students to be admitted.

faculty task force is expected to deliver a report on whether the mandate should be retained in February. But UC Regent Eloy Ortiz Oakley, who is also the chancellor of the California Community College system, has already called for scrapping the standardized test requirement. So has UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ and Michael Brown, the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs for the UC system and its 10 campuses. No one who works for UC appears to be standing up, at least publicly, for the testing mandate.

The SAT/ACT test has for decades been criticized for alleged cultural bias against minorities. But that claim is strongly disputed by the College Board, which administers the test and says it has long since fine-tuned the language of questions in the test so that they don’t presume knowledge of white cultural norms. Some academic studies back up this claim of neutrality and find that SATs are a better indicator of college success than grades.

But one of the SAT critiques offered by Ortiz, the regent, is mostly undisputed. It’s that low-income Latino and African-American families are unable to pay for the vast variety of test-preparation classes used by middle-income and wealthy families to help their children. “Perhaps the tests were well-intended, but they are perpetuating a wealth advantage and undervaluing low-income students,” he wrote earlier this year.

The Princeton Review test-prep company, for example, “guarantees” that its 30-hour, $1,599 class will lead to at least a 1400 score on the basic SAT. A 1400 is at the 95th percentile of the approximately 2 million SATs taken each year.

Meanwhile, upper-income families have long been willing to spend whatever it takes to help their children on standardized tests, in particular by hiring specialized English and math tutors who charge up to $450 an hour.

But the College Board pushes back on this front as well, saying it provides free test prep online that helps tens of thousands of students each year.

Nonprofit behind SAT defends UC admission practices

The New Jersey-based nonprofit is so worried that a UC decision to drop the SAT would be copied by many other U.S. universities – as a recent USA Today analysis predicts – that it is offering increasingly thorough defenses of how UC makes its admission decisions.

According to an EdSource report, Jessica Howell, vice president of research at the College Board, appeared at a symposium on the SAT two weeks ago in Berkeley in which she suggested that critics of the test exaggerated its importance to UC admission officers, who consider 14 factors in evaluating prospective students.

“Any effective standardized measure that is one of those factors is going to reveal underlying inequities in our society,” she said. “As researchers, we shouldn’t stop using them, or measuring them because we don’t like what they say. … [Instead,] we should continue to have a discussion about solutions to close the gaps that we see.”

The comment reflects the College Board’s argument that if SAT critics think it’s unfair that students from wealthy families with more resources do better than students from poor families, it’s not the test that’s unfair. It’s American life – the rich can help their kids more than other families.

To address this issue, the College Board proposed also giving SAT test takers an “adversity score” in May so colleges could quickly determine if a student came from difficult circumstances. But the plan was dropped in August after if faced harsh criticism that it was a facile attempt to label students from wildly different backgrounds with a simple number.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com


  1. Sure they will. Why not. The Socialist state clearly they only want standards when it supports the Communist plan.

    They want to educate(?) in a different language and allow students to not have to learn English. Yet all studies prove English only improves test scores, improves social acceptance, and gives greater business success.

    The reason for Chicano Studies, Black Studies, etc. is simple. These departments allow in students that are sub-par. The classes they take too often are dumbed down to “prove” letting in unprepared students can graduate. The product of the UC and State University system is terrible and this article is just the tip of the iceberg.

  2. A fine example is the Los Angles unified school district. The distinction of linking children to their ancestral language is tantamount to enslaving them to a culture from which they escaped. English is the language of commerce and lacking the basic fundamentals of this vocal interplay degrades their ability to engage in the fruits this country has to offer.

  3. The problem is that they don’t want to admit that some kids are not going to do well in college. They want everyone to go to college even the ones that can’t hack it

  4. TheRandyGuy says

    Other than Asians, minorities underperform in education. Look at their percentage of the population and look at their representation in college/universities, especially in the sciences. Nowhere close. Gender studies gets you a diploma. It does not get you a job.

  5. Its really too bad we don’t have any teachers or places for children to prepare and learn what will be tested on the SAT/ACT.

    My extreme sarcasm. But what good does it do to encourage a poor minority to take out tens of thousands for a college education when they will likely won’t be able to finish their degree?

    Community college is a great place for marginal students (I was one of those) to prove they have both the desire and ability to tackle academics beyond high school.

  6. I became an opponenet of affirmative action / aka racial/ethnic/gender discrimination due to the damage it causes…..Not just to the denied but better qualified, but I also have seen ‘beneficiaries’ of aa fail professionally, as they could not compete at the level their aa degree placed them. Just look at the Bakke history where the aa guy gets highly competitive med school seat, graduates, but then loses medical license.

  7. What ever happened to “vocational” schools? Here is the perfect spot for lower performing kids to learn a good trade and be productive. Not every kid can be a molecular biologist. But no, that money has been used for “ethnic” studies and other liberal BS that is worthless in building a future.

  8. With the racism of the DNC/Communist Party what they are really saying is that certain minorities cannot/will not apply to themselves the effort it takes to excel. That is more of the DNC “PUT Down” to control a (large) segment of the population… You just cannot sugar coat the results!

  9. Anna Shchemelinin says

    They will definitely try. And Chinese immigrants will sue them for racial discrimination against Asians. But, the entire UC system will stay corrupted and dysfunctional as it already is.

  10. By reducing standards the California education system will produce
    a super inferior product. Capable students will spend their money in other
    states to obtain their education and, the private sector will turn their noses up at California “educated” applicants. This scenario is already playing out in law schools.

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