The Ivy Coach Daily

May 29, 2020

Politics Surrounding UC Decision to Drop SAT and ACT

UC Schools Drop SAT, UC Schools Drop ACT, UC Admission
The UC schools said bye, bye, bye to the ACT and SAT (photo credit: Alton).

The University of California’s recent decision to end the consideration of SAT and ACT scores in its admissions process, a decision the UC Board of Regents reached unanimously, made big waves in the world of highly selective college admissions. The UC schools, after all, are a major customer of College Board, the maker of the SAT, and ACT, the maker of its eponymous exam. But did the UC schools drop the SAT and ACT because the flawed exams, which are entirely coachable, inherently disadvantage low-income students and/or underrepresented minority students? Or did the UC schools drop the tests strictly because of politics, because it looks like they’re trying to create a more diverse and more inclusive system? Perhaps a mix of both?

In an editorial for Forbes entitled “Dropping The SAT And ACT Is About Politics, Not Diversity,” Evan Gerstmann makes the case that the UC schools were so motivated by politics in rendering the decision to drop the SAT and ACT that the UC Board of Regents essentially ignored the facts — including that these standardized tests are better predictors of success in college than is a student’s GPA. In fact, his argument relies on the conclusions reached by the Standardized Testing Task Force formed by the UC system’s Academic Council. As he summarizes, “Standardized tests are as good or better than high school GPAs for predicting academic performance at UC schools. The trend over time is that standardized tests are becoming better predictors while high school GPA is becoming worse. Standardized tests do not under-predict future academic performance by minorities or low income students. Finally, the UC’s own expert Task Force did not conclude that eliminating them would enhance diversity at UC Schools and did not recommend going test-optional.”

This particular tidbit from the report compiled by the Standardized Testing Task Force is particularly interesting to us: “Test scores are predictive for all demographic groups and disciplines, even after controlling for GPA. In fact, test scores are better predictors of success for students who are Underrepresented Minority students (URMs), who are first-generation, or whose families are low-income.” But we’re curious what our readers think about the argument that the UC system’s decision to drop the SAT and ACT was motivated more by politics and less on facts. So let us know what you’re thinking by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!

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