A coalition of civil rights groups on Tuesday sent a letter to the University of California threatening to sue the college system if it continues to require SAT or ACT for admissions. (The university uses both exams.)
“Research shows that SAT and ACT systematically prevent talented and qualified students with fewer accrued benefits – including less affluent students, students with disabilities, and underrepresented minority students – from accessing education higher than the University of California, ”the letter said. . The letter goes on to say that the tests produce “meaningless results.”
“The SAT and ACT fail to meet their primary goal: predicting student performance in college,” the letter said. “Put simply, scores do not provide any meaningful information about a student’s chances of success in college. The College Board, for example, defends the use of the SAT primarily by claiming that SAT scores are a good predictor of freshman grades. is already a dubious metric: No one goes to college to get freshman grades, and no university should seek to design their student body around this metric. “
The letter continues, “The fact that SAT and ACT scores measure socioeconomic status and race – rather than ability or mastery of the program – is in part a result of biases built into the development of the exams themselves.”
And he notes that test preparation exacerbates inequalities in the system by favoring affluent students.
“Today’s lawsuit is finally changing the conversation from a policy to a legal one,” said Mark Rosenbaum, managing counsel for Public Counsel, a non-profit law firm. “Using the SAT / ACT is not just bad policy; this violates the California Constitution and anti-discrimination laws, and is therefore legally and morally wrong. “
The letter notes that California law prohibits racial discrimination and says that will be the basis of a lawsuit if the Board of Regents does not stop demanding the SAT or the ACT.
Most of the actions against the SAT or ACT to date have simply been to convince the colleges to stop demanding them. Litigation, if successful, would raise the stakes.
The University of California Academic Senate is currently considering whether it should continue to require applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores.
A spokeswoman for the University of California noted the review, saying there would be no comment on the letter.
“The Senate has since established a working group to determine whether the SAT and ACT tests are useful measures of academic performance for the admissions process,” said Claire Doan, executive director of strategic communications and media relations.
“The university is currently awaiting the evaluation and recommendations of the Academic Senate Working Group before determining whether action should be taken on this important issue. We expect the Working Group to provide its recommendations to the Academic Senate during the course of of the 2019-2020 academic year, ”she added.
ACT issued a statement that said in part, “The ACT test is neither discriminatory nor biased. We are working diligently to ensure that the test questions are not biased against any group of students… Group differences in test scores reflect differences found in most other measures of educational attainment and achievement. academic (eg, grades in college, graduation). And research has repeatedly shown that ACT scores are predictive and linked to important academic achievement, including college grades, retention, and graduation. ACT test results reflect inequalities in access and quality of education, highlighting where they exist. Blaming standardized tests for the differences in quality and educational opportunities that exist will not improve academic performance. “
The College Board said, “The idea that the SAT is discriminatory is wrong. Any objective measurement of student achievement will highlight inequalities in our education system. Our goal, along with our members and partners, is to tackle these long-standing inequalities. More than 140 school districts and county education offices across California, including some of the state’s largest and most diverse districts, support the use of the redesigned SAT as part of their efforts to improve college preparation and breaking down barriers to college – by connecting their students to the College Board’s free personalized practice tools and unlimited college application fee waivers. We will continue to work with the University of California as they tackle the difficult task of admitting students from the thousands of qualified applicants and supporting their success upon arrival on campus. Unfortunately, this letter contains a number of false claims and flies in the face of the factual and evidence-based discussion that students, parents and educators deserve.