Jessica Flores, USA TODAY
Published 11:40 p.m. ET May 21, 2020 | Updated 9:43 a.m. ET May 22, 2020
The College Board is rolling out a new system that assigns test-takers a score based on the environment they grew up in.
One of the largest and most prestigious university systems in the country made a landmark decision on Thursday, reshaping its admissions process by ditching standardized testing.
The University of California Board of Regents unanimously voted to suspend the SAT and ACT testing requirements for freshman applicants through 2024 and eliminate them for California students after that – a plan proposed by Janet Napolitano, the university’s system’s president.
“Today’s decision by the Board marks a significant change for the University’s undergraduate admissions,” Napolitano said.
Instead, the UC system – which includes about 280,000 students across the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of California, Berkeley, and seven other undergraduate schools – will focus on creating its own test “that better aligns with the content the University expects students to have mastered for college readiness” and its values, according to a news release.
“I think this is an incredible step in the right direction toward aligning our admissions policy with the broad-based values of the University,” UC Board of Regents Chair John A. Pérez said in the release. “I see our role as fiduciaries and stewards of the public good and this proposal before us is an incredible step in the right direction.”
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The approved plan will make SAT and ACT test scores optional for 2021-22 and 2022-23 applicants. By 2025, both testing requirements will be eliminated for California students, even if the new test created by the system is considered “unfeasible or not ready,” says the release.
For the 2023-24 and 2024-25, there will be a “test-blind” process, meaning universities won’t use testing scores for admissions but they can use them for other purposes like scholarships and course placements.
The UC system’s vote could be a turning point in the long-running debate about the equality of standardized testing, which critics have argued are biased against low-income and minority students and favor wealthier students whose families can afford to spend thousands of dollars on preparatory courses.
Last year, a coalition of civil rights groups filed a lawsuit against the UC system because of its use of testing scores for admission. The group said that its SAT and ACT requirement discriminates against students who can’t afford testing preparation.
“These tests are incredibly sensitive to socioeconomic status and race and have nothing to say about the individual,” said Alisa Hartz, an attorney with Public Counsel, the Los Angeles-based pro bono firm that filed the suit on behalf of students and advocacy groups.
In March, the UC system had temporarily suspended SAT scores for fall 2021, making the tests optional for students.
Contributing: Marco della Cava, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
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