Judge Rules UC System Can No Longer Use SAT Scores for Admissions

September 3, 2020 Updated: September 3, 2020

University of California (UC) campuses will no longer be allowed to recognize SAT and ACT test scores as criteria for determining admissions after an Aug. 31 Superior Court ruling.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman granted a preliminary injunction that requires the UC system to immediately stop using the test scores as part of the admissions process.

The ruling comes after the UC system opted to temporarily remove SAT and ACT results from undergraduate admission requirements on March 31, instead making them optional, as part of an effort to help mitigate the challenges students and their families faced amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The incentive to permanently remove ACT and SAT testing for admission came in part due to the plaintiff’s argument that the tests unlawfully discriminate against students based on family income and race, and deny students with disabilities the constitutional right to equal protection.

Seligman said the current “test-option” policy at most UC schools gives non-disabled, privileged students the upper hand by offering a “second look” in admissions.

Public Counsel, a group involved with the lawsuit, called the judge’s decision “goundbreaking” in a Sept. 1 statement.

“The decision reflects the weight of testimony from leading experts on disability discrimination, racial and socioeconomic inequities in education and standardized testing,” the statement said.

Mark Rosenbaum, director of Public Counsel’s Opportunity Under Law project, said, “Judge Seligman’s historic decision puts an end to racist tests that deprived countless California students of color, students with disabilities, and students from low income families of a fair shot at admissions to the UC system.”

Dr. Williamson Evers, senior fellow at the Independent Institute, a nonpartisan public policy research organization, disagreed with the injunction.

Evers told The Epoch Times that SAT and ACT scores are predictive indicators of whether or not a student will be successful in a particular institute.

“We can’t just rely on high school grades because different schools have different grading standards. We need a common yardstick, and these tests provide it,” Evers said.

In an emailed statement sent to the University of California–Los Angeles (UCLA) student newspaper, the Daily Bruin, spokeswoman Claire Doan said the UC system “respectfully disagrees” with the court ruling and would consider further legal action.

“An injunction may interfere with the University’s efforts to implement appropriate and comprehensive admissions policies and its ability to attract and enroll students of diverse backgrounds and experiences,” the statement said.

Bob Schaeffer, interim executive director of The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), said in an Aug. 13 press release that his organization encourages schools to eliminate ACT and SAT requirements as “the only way to assure students that they will be treated even-handedly.”

“It is attractive for many applicants to know that they will be evaluated as ‘more than a score,’” Schaeffer said.

According to FairTest, over 60 percent of 4-year universities and colleges in the United States will not have SAT and ACT scores as part of the application requirements for fall 2021 admission.