The University of California Board of Regents unanimously voted, on Thursday, May 21, to suspend the standardized testing requirement for all freshmen applicants until fall 2024. The decision comes two months after the UC temporarily suspended the requirement as the coronavirus pandemic has mandated school closures across California and College Board has had to cancel and postpone testing dates.
“Today’s decision by the Board marks a significant change for the University’s undergraduate admissions,” said UC President Janet Napolitano during the regents meeting. “We are removing the ACT/SAT requirement for California students and developing a new test that more closely aligns with what we expect incoming students to know to demonstrate their preparedness for UC.”
The plans laid out by the Regents make UC test-optional for fall 2021 and fall 2022, campuses will individually have the option to utilize SAT and ACT scores in their admissions process. Moving forward, standardized test scores may still be utilized for course placement, scholarships and eligibility for the statewide admissions guarentee for applicants, but they will not be required and the UC will become, what is known as, test-blind for fall 2023 and fall 2024 admissions.
The decision to omit the standardized test score requirement was made despite recommendations from the UC Academic Council Standardized Testing Task Force (STTF) to keep the requirement. A report made by the STTF in January 2020 states that they, “engaged in complex and principled conversations about how to define and measure academic preparedness without contributing to pre existing disparities in educational opportunity along lines of race and class.” The task force did not recommend making standardized tests optional for students and instead recommended that UC review and update components of the statewide eligibility index, and further analyze factors contributing to disproportionate representation of students from populations that have historically been excluded from higher education opportunities within the UC.
In an Op-Ed written for the LA Times in Feb., Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox expressed that removing the SAT and ACT requirement would result in more biases in the admissions process. “I believe that as a practical matter, eliminating the tests could make inequities worse. Doing so would mean relying more heavily on other measures that are equally biased or more so, like high school grades,” wrote Wilcox. According to Wilcox, admission criteria such as GPA, Advanced Placement and honors courses, class ranking, extracurricular activities, interests and skills will be weighted more heavily by universities, measures that are likely not available to low-income students. Wilcox stated in a previous interview with The Highlander that UCR gives specific weight to both first-generation and low-income students when considering those students for admission.
In a statement made to The Highlander about the UC regents decision, Wilcox said, “Over many years, we’ve created an application process that has worked well for UCR and its students. We look forward to revising that admissions process so that it does not rely on standardized testing, but continues our tradition of student access and success.”
By 2025, all use of SAT and ACT test scores will be completely eliminated and replaced by a UC-endorsed test to measure UC-readiness. The proposed test strives to add value to the admissions decision process and improve educational quality and equity in California.