Last Tuesday, a trio of students, several student advocacy groups, and the Compton Unified School District indicated they would sue the University of California if it does not drop its admission requirement of SAT and ACT test scores.
The basis for the suit: The tests “illegally discriminate against applicants who can’t afford test prep classes and pose other unfair obstacles …”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, one of the three students involved in the potential lawsuit, Kawika Smith, said that “he grew up in poverty, often homeless and with family violence that left him with emotional stress.” He says he couldn’t afford the cost of private test tutoring, and as a result was denied admission to UC Berkeley despite being “bright” with “enviable achievements.”
He ended up choosing an out-of-state college that did not require the SAT or ACT.
The lawyers representing the plaintiffs said UC “has chosen to ignore ample evidence that … disparate SAT and ACT scores mirror and reinforce social and educational inequality, [and] in doing so is knowingly excluding high-performing, less advantaged students from the benefits” of an education in the state college system.
The lawyers’ demand letter comes as increasing numbers of universities across the country have ended their use of the controversial admissions tests on similar grounds. More than 1,000 universities, roughly 40% of the nation’s campuses, have dropped the requirement or made the tests optional in recent years, according to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, an anti-testing group that tracks those numbers. …
The letter cited research showing the tests have minimal ability to predict students’ success in college; contain up to 10% of questions that are “biased against underrepresented minority groups”; and have “word-heavy math problems” that often stump math-gifted students with less-than-perfect English skills.
“Ultimately, SAT and ACT scores are but a proxy for socioeconomic status and race,” the lawyers said.
The UC Academic Senate currently is studying whether to continue use of the exams. Those opposed to the tests include UC Regents Chair John Pérez, Vice Chair Cecilia Estolano, and California Governor Gavin Newsom.
The College Board, proprietor of the SAT, maintains its exam is “strongly predictive of college performance” and is not discriminatory.
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