UC Faculty Committee Recommends Keeping ACT/SAT

According to this LA Times article, the UC faculty review committee tasked with looking into whether the UCs should continue to use ACT and SAT as an admission requirement recommends keeping the standardized tests in a recently released report.

The UC system has traditionally abide to the recommendations of the Academic Senate. However, the use of standardized tests has been a somewhat politically charged topic (there is also a lawsuit filed against the UC system regarding the use of standardized test scores for admission). For now, high school students should proceed with the assumption that the UCs will continue to use the standardized tests as part of the admission requirements.

Based on what I can gather, the UCs have internal disagreements on the testing requirement. The admissions folks are against removing it (because that would make their jobs 10 times harder; try evaluating and making admission decisions on 60,000 to 100,000 applicants with outstanding GPA and awesome extracurricular activities, and no additional benchmark), but the Regents is for removing it (probably more because of public opinion and likely because they never had to read 60,000 to 100,000 applications in three months). Napolitano seemed to have remained neutral on this question so far (she was the one who made the request for a task force to look into the issue), so I think she may simply make her recommendations based on the report. However, what I don’t know is whether the Regents has unilateral power to toss out the ACT/SAT (against the faculty recommendation).

Keep in mind that getting rid of the ACT/SAT will just shift and scatter the evaluation focus (a world of unintended consequences awaits). Maybe the number of AP exams taken and the number of passing scores will start to carry more weight. Maybe the UCs will start looking at the Smarter Balanced test (imagine the possibility that all high schools shift their curriculum toward teaching students how to take the test). Maybe the UCs will come up with an entirely different way of evaluating freshman applicants (currently most UCs use holistic review, but that is just one version of the comprehensive review; they can go back to using fixed weight or hybrid, or come up with new ways to torment applicants).

I agree that the ACT/SAT is not an effective way to evaluate students, but getting rid of the tests before implementing something that is effective will only create more problems. Hypothetically speaking, if the UCs switch to looking at AP exams or Smarter Balanced, many students will be inadequately prepared for the first few application cycles (students in wealthier schools or from wealthier families will have an advantage of additional resources). If the UCs come up with a new evaluation method, that can take several application cycles before it starts to work smoothly; meanwhile, many students will be falling through the cracks as the UCs work out the kinks.


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