The College of California has slammed the door shut on utilizing any standardized take a look at for admissions selections, asserting Thursday that school may discover no different examination that might keep away from the biased outcomes that led leaders to scrap the SAT final yr.
UC Provost Michael Brown declared the tip of testing for admissions selections at a Board of Regents assembly, placing a conclusive finish to greater than three years of analysis and debate within the nation’s premier public college system on whether or not standardized testing does extra hurt than good when assessing candidates for admission.
“UC will proceed to apply test-free admissions now and into the long run,” Brown mentioned to the regents, throughout a dialogue a few doable different to the SAT and ACT checks.
Testing supporters argue that standardized assessments present a uniform measure to foretell the school efficiency of scholars from diversified faculties and backgrounds. However UC in the end embraced opposing arguments that prime college grades are a greater instrument with out the biases based mostly on race, earnings and guardian schooling ranges present in checks.
Given UC’s dimension and affect, the extended debate was intently adopted nationally as a harbinger of the way forward for standardized testing in admissions. Its resolution to completely drop testing necessities is prone to embolden different campuses to do likewise and speed up the nationwide motion to hunt extra equitable methods to evaluate a scholar’s potential to reach school.
“When you might have probably the most prestigious college system within the nation’s most populous state functioning with out take a look at scores and growing methods to do admissions pretty and precisely with out them, it’s very vital,” mentioned Bob Schaeffer, government director of FairTest: Nationwide Middle for Honest & Open Testing. “UC already is and more and more will change into a nationwide mannequin for test-free admissions.”
He mentioned the variety of campuses that don’t require take a look at scores for admission has elevated to 1,815 in the present day from 1,075 two years in the past — partly because of the issue of securing appointments for SAT and ACT checks through the pandemic. The share of scholars who submitted take a look at scores to the Widespread Utility, a consortium of 900 private and non-private faculties, fell to 43% within the 2020-21 admission season in contrast with 77% in 2019-20.
It’s unclear what number of establishments will stay test-optional past the pandemic. And UC’s resolution doesn’t spell the tip of SAT and ACT testing in California. Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second largest college district, nonetheless administers the take a look at to its highschool college students and counselors advise them to take it to maximise alternatives to use to different faculties.
However the concern is now definitively settled at UC.
Brown’s declaration culminated an often-contentious course of kicked off in July 2018 when then-UC President Janet Napolitano requested the Tutorial Senate to assessment how UC makes use of the checks and whether or not any modifications have been mandatory given the college’s efforts to increase entry amid unprecedented progress in demand.
After a yr of examine, school leaders really helpful in February 2020 that UC proceed utilizing the exams for admissions, citing knowledge in a extremely anticipated report displaying that standardized checks may very well assist enhance enrollment of deprived college students.
However that controversial conclusion set off a flurry of countervailing pressures, together with a report attacking the school suggestions. In Might 2020, the regents in the end voted to eradicate SAT and ACT testing necessities.
In the meantime, the Compton Unified Faculty District and a number of other college students and neighborhood organizations had filed two lawsuits in 2018 alleging that the SAT necessities violated their civil rights — and an Alameda County Superior Courtroom choose agreed, ordering UC to droop them in September 2020, six months after the regent’s resolution.
UC President Michael V. Drake subsequently requested the Tutorial Senate this spring to look at whether or not another take a look at may very well be used starting in 2025. A Senate committee studied whether or not an evaluation used for Ok-12 college students in California and a number of other different states, generally known as Smarter Balanced, may very well be repurposed for UC admissions selections. The committee’s unanimous conclusion: no go.
The Smarter Balanced take a look at solely offered “modest incremental worth” past highschool grades in predicting a scholar’s first-year UC efficiency whereas “reflecting and reproducing inequality” in instructional alternatives for underserved college students, committee co-chair Mary Gauvain, a UC Riverside professor, advised regents on Thursday. Utilizing the state examination in admissions selections may benefit some underrepresented college students who take a look at effectively however have decrease grades, the committee report discovered, however would disproportionately favor Asian People and Pacific Islanders and will scale back admission charges of Black, Latino and low-income candidates.
Gauvain added that committee members have been additionally involved that utilizing the take a look at for high-stakes admissions selections would spur the event of a test-prep business — additional exacerbating social inequities amongst low-income college students unable to pay for such coaching.
Tony Alpert, Smarter Balanced government director, didn’t touch upon the findings that the take a look at mirrored racial and financial disparities. However he mentioned in a press release that he was enthusiastic about working with UC to make use of Smarter Balanced’s instruments to assist enhance instructing and studying. The college mentioned the state evaluation may very well be used, for example, to assist place college students in writing lessons after admission to UC.
However the committee may discover no different UC admissions take a look at with out the broader issues, Gauvain advised regents.
Drake mentioned he concurred with the committee’s conclusion.
“Is that this the tip of the problem?” Regent Sherry Lansing requested.
“It’s the tip for now,” Brown replied.
Drake mentioned UC may think about adopting a standardized take a look at sooner or later if one was developed that meets the college’s wants. “However we’re not growing one and we don’t know of 1 that exists presently,” he mentioned.
With out testing necessities, Drake added, UC attracted a record-breaking variety of freshman purposes for fall 2021 — greater than 200,000 — and admitted probably the most various class ever. UC admissions officers have mentioned they have been in a position to completely consider the flood of purposes with out take a look at scores, utilizing 13 different components within the system’s assessment course of, comparable to a scholar’s highschool grade-point common, the rigor of programs taken, particular abilities, essays and extracurricular actions.
The college committee mentioned UC ought to step up different methods to advance fairness in admissions. Suggestions included a more in-depth partnership between UC and the Ok-12 system with better entry to college-preparatory programs required for admission; extra state funding for tutorial preparation applications, and enhanced monitoring to verify UC is reaching underserved excessive faculties.
The report additionally referred to as for extra funding to assist UC completely assess purposes, present anti-bias coaching for software readers and strengthen helps to assist college students full their levels.
Regents hailed the choice. Regent Eloy Ortiz Oakley, one of many earliest and most outspoken opponents of standardized testing for admissions, urged UC to proceed to prepared the ground in selling test-free admissions, significantly since they appear to extend the variety of candidates.
Board Chair Cecilia Estolano referred to as her vote to eradicate SAT and ACT testing necessities one in all her proudest moments as a regent. She mentioned the subsequent urgent process is to double down on methods to organize extra college students for UC admission and assist them as soon as enrolled.
“We all know we’re coping with generations of instructional inequity baked in discrimination, baked in structural impediments to our college students,” she mentioned. “If we’re going to proceed to attempt to increase instructional entry in an equitable method … now we have to supply the helps to allow our college students to succeed.”