Press Releases

October 29, 2019

Use of SAT/ACT in Admissions is Discriminatory, Advocates Say: University of California Must Cease Practices or face Lawsuit


October 29, 2019

Students, community groups demand that UC Board of Regents cease use of SAT/ACT for admissions – cite practice as meaningless barrier to higher education for underrepresented minority students and students with disabilities.

Lawyers representing three students, five nonprofits and the Compton Unified School District have announced their formal request to the University of California Board of Regents that the UC system cease use of SAT and ACT test scores in admissions decisions. The Board of Regents will have ten days to respond, and if the practice is not stopped, the lawyers will file a civil rights lawsuit against the UC for knowingly creating barriers to higher education for students of color and students with disabilities.

Read the Demand Letter HERE

Earlier this month, Governor Newsom acknowledged that the use of the SAT and ACT “exacerbates the inequities for underrepresented students, given that performance on these tests is highly correlated with race and parental income, and is not the best predictor for college success.” The UC has long been aware of the scores’ lack of meaning and their discriminatory effect, but it has continued to require them of prospective applicants.   

“Today’s legal action finally changes the conversation from a policy one to a legal one,” said Mark Rosenbaum, Directing Attorney at Public Counsel, a nonprofit law firm. “Use of the SAT/ACT is not merely bad policy; it violates the California Constitution and anti-discrimination statutes, and is therefore legally and morally impermissible. Students should not have to endure the stress and expense of preparing for and taking the SAT, and the admissions process should no longer be contaminated by this discriminatory metric.”

Plaintiffs allege that basing college admissions decisions on SAT and ACT scores amounts to deciding students’ future based on their race and socioeconomic status and not on individual merit. They also point to disparities in access to effective test preparation classes and to bias in test design and test-taking conditions that discriminate against students on the basis of their wealth, race, and disability.

“The SAT has built-in biases that ultimately derail the college aspirations of thousands of hardworking students of color who would thrive in college and make important contributions to the UC community and beyond,” said Lisa Holder, Of Counsel at the Equal Justice Society. “The test serves no purpose other than to act as a barrier to higher education for historically disadvantaged students. The UC Regents have a duty to end this discriminatory practice."

The Academic Senate is currently considering its use of the SAT and ACT in admissions decisions, as it has done several times in the past two decades, and may offer a recommendation to the Regents next year. “We don’t need to wait for yet another study to prove that the SAT and ACT are meaningless and unjust,” said Gregory Ellis of Scheper Kim & Harris, co-counsel on the case. “This is urgent. Right now, students are being asked to take a test that has no real value, but will determine their futures. These students have no time to lose.” 

Read the full press release here.

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