UC Drops SAT/ACT Requirement. Will It Make a Difference?

As you may have heard, the University of California has voted to ditch standardized tests for incoming freshmen:

In a decision that could reshape the nation’s college admissions process, University of California regents unanimously voted Thursday to suspend SAT and ACT testing requirements through 2024 and eliminate them for California students by 2025.

….Some hailed the vote as a bold and visionary move to expand access and equity. But others expressed concern that dumping the tests would lead to grade inflation, admission of less-prepared students and backlash over different entry standards for different classes.

My own guess is that this will make very little difference. A simple chart from the Education Trust shows why:

Practically every state, no matter what method they use, has a hard time enrolling Black freshmen in numbers proportional to their population. California has been unusually bad in this regard ever since the passage of Proposition 209 in 1996, which eliminated the use of affirmative action. We’ve tried over and over since then to figure out ways to get Black enrollment up on UC campuses, and nothing has worked. The obvious conclusion is that it’s too late to fix the longstanding effects of racism and poverty if you wait until the senior year of high school to do it. Black kids have to keep pace from preschool forward, which requires money, commitment, and a willingness to do something about geography. None of those things have ever been available in the amount needed.

So will this latest effort work? I doubt it. But I wish them the best of luck.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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