Today’s Solutions: December 01, 2021

High school students across the US aren’t taking standardized SAT and ACT tests this year due to COVID-19 shutdowns, but students applying to the University of California (UC) in the future will never have to take the tests at all. The UC system voted unanimously to phase out ACT and SAT test scores by the fall of 2025. 

The UC system has relied on standardized tests to determine admittance for 50 years, but critics argue the tests are racially biased and give an unfair advantage to wealthier students who can pay their way to higher scores. The UC admissions process accounts for educational inequalities in terms of applicant GPAs but did not have the same methods for evaluating testing scores. This is significant, as research has shown that 12 percent of Hispanics and 9 percent of African Americans scored a 1200 or higher on the SAT, compared to 45 percent of whites and 55 percent of Asian-Americans. 

The UC regents spent six hours asking testing experts detailed questions about the purpose of the admissions tests, their ability to predict college success, and whether they’re a fair measure of what students actually know, before voting to discontinue their use. 

The UC system has given itself a five year buffer period to come up with a viable alternative test. If they cannot do so, testing requirements will be dropped altogether in favor of a higher emphasis on personal essays and high school transcripts. 

After the vote last month, UC President Janet Napolitano released the plan for students applying for admission during this transition period. The tests will be optional for students until 2022, and for 2023 and 2024, admissions offices will not consider standardized scores. The essay portion of the ACT and SAT will also be dropped beginning next year. 

Napolitano is scheduled to leave her role as president this summer, but urged the board and academic senate to “drill down into factors that contribute to the disproportionate representation, or un-representation, of students from underserved communities within our student population.”

Some still have reservations about the ability of any test, even an adjusted one, to serve as an equal assessment of all students. “While we understand the desire for a universal, standardized metric, it is hard to imagine that a new standardized test would somehow evade all the equity concerns of the SAT and ACT,” said the UC Student Association in a letter released concerning the decision. 

The UC system joins a growing list of universities doing away with standardized testing. Many schools, like the prestigious University of Chicago, have determined the tests to be unfair and outdated. At a time when equality, specifically racial equality, is at the forefront of our consciousness, equalizing public education access is one of the strongest tools we have for social justice.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Online mushroom hotline puts the power of crowdsourcing in poison control

Ninety nine percent of mushrooms are non-toxic, but the one percent which are can have fatal consequences if accidentally ingested. For people with pets or young children, a seemingly harmless patch of fungi in the ... Read More

30 White rhinos make record journey to Akagera national park

White rhinos are classified as near threatened, with numbers dropping due to poaching. In a bid to improve the outlook for the species, 30 of these giant animals recently made the journey from South Africa ... Read More

This cutting edge camera is the size of a grain of salt

Micro-cameras are used in virtually all industries. In the medical field, these tiny cameras have helped facilitate less invasive medical imaging practices and improved robotic surgical tools. Structures of molecules and neural pathways have been ... Read More

Research shows gestures take the guesswork out of learning a new language

It’s common knowledge that picking up a new language is easier as a child, while your brain is still flexible—but learning a foreign tongue as an adult is another story. Well, according to new research, ... Read More

This impact-absorbing technology will save lives (and traffic poles)

Crashing a vehicle is already a traumatizing and possibly fatal accident, but if the object that the vehicle collides into is a rigid street light pole that snaps off its base due to the impact, ... Read More

New York City opens the country’s first safe injection site

Harm reduction strategies are gaining traction as a more effective way to quell the ever-growing opioid crisis. These strategies, like making clean needle exchanges available and decriminalizing drug possession, understand that criminalization alone will not ... Read More