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UC to end standardized testing requirements for undergrads

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This is a fascinating decision:

The University of California on Thursday voted to phase out the SAT and ACT as requirements to apply to its system of 10 schools, which include some of the nation’s most popular campuses, in a decision with major implications for the use of standardized tests in college admissions.

Given the size and influence of the California system, whose marquee schools include the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of California, Berkeley, the move is expected to accelerate the momentum of American colleges away from the tests, amid charges that they are unfair to poor, black and Hispanic students.

The school system’s action, which follows many small liberal arts colleges, comes as the ACT and the College Board, a nonprofit organization that administers the SAT, are suffering financially from the cancellation of test dates during the coronavirus pandemic. One critic of the industry estimated that the College Board had lost $45 million in revenue this spring.

A lot of the small liberal arts colleges that have eliminated the standardized testing requirements because they shifted to de facto open admissions. For a huge university system with several highly competitive flagship schools to do so is another matter.

As Nicholas Lemann (among others) has pointed out, in terms of making American higher education more egalitarian standardized tests are the god that failed. The tests still have substantial race and class biases because they’re not just tests of inherent “aptitude,” and top schools remain much more accessible to the affluent. Eliminating standardized testing eliminates a source of stress and expense, and it may well lead to a more representative admissions process. It will be interesting to see how this plays out but I think the underlying reasoning is sound.

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