University of California Floats Dropping SAT as Lawsuit Gains Steam

The head of theUniversity of California recommended that it immediately stop using SAT and ACT scores to help decide which students are admitted to its nine colleges.

What UC President Janet Napolitano didn’t mention is that a state judge in Oakland said four days earlier he’s inclined to let students proceed with a lawsuit challenging the sprawling college system’s use of standardized tests on the grounds that they discriminate against poor people and minorities. More than 1,000 colleges across the U.S. already have made the tests optional.

In a written recommendation Monday, Napolitano said the university should come up with its own test “that better aligns with the content UC expects applicants to have learned and with UC’s values.” She cited the findings of an academic task force that spent a year studying the issue of standardized testing and on the social-distancing requirements of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The task force encouraged the continued use of the SAT and ACT until the university develops its own. Napolitano said she hoped the new test could be developed within five years. If not, she said, no standardized test should be used in admissions.

Read More: Shamed Over SAT, University of California Was Once a Test Critic

The lawsuit was filed in December by a black high school student and others who claimed that the tests favor UC applicants from affluent high schools and those whose parents can afford to send them to college test prep centers.

In a tentative ruling Thursday, Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman found some plaintiffs don’t have legal standing to sue and dismissed some claims. But he said the case should move forward because the students, even if they hadn’t shown that they had been individually harmed by the testing requirement, could sue based on the policy’s “disparate impact on a protected class.” He noted that state law prohibits financing of agencies that deny anyone equal access.

Claire Doan, a spokeswoman for UC, said the university system plans to contest the ruling on “numerous grounds” at a hearing set for Wednesday and that plaintiffs will also challenge part of the ruling.

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