Monday, February 3, 2020

Faculty Committee Says Keep the SAT/ACT for Now

University of California should continue to use SAT and ACT in college admissions, key faculty committee recommends: Final decision will be made by the UC Board of Regents in May

2-3-20, Louis Freedberg, EdSource

The University of California should continue to require that applicants for undergraduate admission take standardized college admissions tests like the SAT and ACT, a key faculty task force has recommended. Notably, the task force did not recommend that UC shut the door permanently to making the test optional for applicants to UC’s nine campuses that admit undergraduates.  (The University of California at San Francisco, the system’s 10th campus, is a medical school, and only admits students for postgraduate study.) Instead, it recommended that UC conduct additional research on the possibility of making the test optional before deciding “whether and how to implement such a policy.”

In January last year, the Academic Senate representing UC faculty established an 18-member Standardized Testing Task Force, at the request of  UC president Janet Napolitano.  It was asked to evaluate “without prejudice or presupposition”  whether the university and students are “best served by our current testing practices.” ...

The use of standardized admissions tests has been a subject of ongoing debate and discussion at the university for decades.  In recent years it has been the target of increasing criticism, including that the tests discriminate against historically disadvantaged students who don’t get the preparation they need to do well on the test. The task force said it did not find that “UC’s use of test scores played a major role in worsening the effects of disparities already present among applicants.” To the contrary, the task force concluded that UC’s admissions process  “helped to make up for the potential adverse effect of score differences between groups.”

The task force’s report, which is expected to be hugely influential, is not the final word on the issue. The report will now go to the entire Academic Senate for input from faculty systemwide. The Academic Senate will then make a recommendation to  UC president  Napolitano, who will in turn make a recommendation to the UC Board of Regents in May for it to make a final decision. The task force’s recommendations ran contrary to the views of several top UC officials, including UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, who have argued in favor of  eliminating the use of the admissions tests...

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