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University of California to End Use of the SAT and ACT for Eligibility and Admissions

STAFF REPORT • May 21, 2020

Today, the University of California (UC) Regents voted unanimously (23-0) to improve college admissions by ending their reliance on the SAT and ACT in their admissions process. We applaud UC President Janet Napolitano and the Regents for this bold step in creating a more equitable admissions process that does not rely on racially biased admissions tests.

After several education advocates, researchers, and Regents cited that the SAT and ACT discriminate based on race/ethnicity and income during today’s UC Regents meeting, the Regents voted to extend the current test-optional model—instituted due to restricted access to testing brought on by COVID-19—for another two years before going test-blind, a model where the SAT and ACT will not be used in admissions at all. Student Regent Jamaal Muwwakkil had a message for those concerned about measures to increase diversity at the institution: “Prestige has been juxtaposed with diversity and selectivity with equity, and I don’t know if that aligns with who we want to be in the future.”

“The University of California’s decision sends a clear message that biased, pay-to-play admissions tests will no longer be tolerated,” said Michele Siqueiros, Campaign for College Opportunity president.  “After years of research pointing to the racial and income biases of these tests that fuel a billion-dollar industry more concerned with profits than fairness, coupled with the recent College Admissions Scandal, it is time for colleges and universities across the country to do more than simply talk about their ‘Commitments to Diversity.’  They must finally act on them by eliminating admissions practices that discriminate based on a student’s zip code, income status, and race/ethnicity.”

During the discussion to end reliance on the test at the meeting, Regent Michael Cohen expressed, “This is really a good opportunity for the UC system to embrace its public nature and really align itself with CSU [California State University], with the community colleges, and with K-12, to serve all of the students in a much more comprehensive manner.”

As the state’s premier research institution serving over 280,000 students, the UC educates undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. It is the only public segment responsible for producing doctoral degrees and awarding degrees in professional fields like law, medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine. The ten campuses are essential to sustaining the economy and ensuring California has the educated citizenry it needs to meet workforce demand, especially during this time of high demand for healthcare delivery and innovation, and economic uncertainty.  California’s public colleges and universities must continue to amend policies and procedures, like the historic vote taken today to end the use of the SAT and ACT in admissions, that act as barriers to college access and success in order to ensure the health and economic prosperity of our state.

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