Northern California Record

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Coalition says University of California's use of SAT/ACT for admission puts some students at disadvantage


By Rich Peters | Nov 25, 2019

On the campus at University of California - Davis |

OAKLAND – A civil rights coalition comprised of groups that oppose the University of California's use of the SAT/ACT standardized tests for admissions are considering filing a lawsuit against the school system.

The coalition, backed by College Access Plan, the Dolores Huerta Foundation and others, expressed their issues with the current system in a letter saying that, among other problems, the tests create barriers for students of color and those with disabilities.

“Research demonstrates that the SAT and ACT systematically prevent talented and qualified students with less accumulated advantage – including students with less wealth, students with disabilities, and underrepresented minority students – from accessing higher education at the University of California,” reads the letter. It also went on to say that the tests produce “meaningless results.”

The 10-school UC system is currently conducting a study on both the SAT and ACT tests, which were just re-designed in 2017, to decide how it will move forward with them. A recommendation is expected to be released by spring 2020 and will be submitted to the UC Board of Regents for a potential change in the longstanding policy.

“Despite the re-design, we believe that structural biases continue to persist in the exam,” said Amanda Savage, case attorney for the public counsel. “One particularly problematic area has been the SAT’s use of lengthy word problems, for example, which places multilingual learners at a disadvantage. And what we have seen also despite the sensible re-design the SAT continues to produce (worse) outcomes amongst underrepresented minority students and other affected groups.”

The goal is to lessen the negative impact of the scores, said Savage, who believes there is already a steady wealth of information filed on each student to use for admissions purposes.

“Our position is that ACT and SAT scores simply adds nothing meaningful to a student’s application beyond the wealth of information that is already contained in his or her file – in other words we think they’re mostly redundant,” said Savage.

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