The University of California has joined the ranks of other colleges and universities around the United States that will no longer accept SAT and ACT scores as part of student applications for admission. This change was already partially in progress, but was solidified when the university system was forced to settle a lawsuit brought by various student groups and activists who described the test scores as “racist metrics.” They somehow got a judge to agree with that sentiment somewhere in the process, but the real winners here are the attorneys for the plaintiffs. The school system has agreed to paymore than ten million dollars in legal fees they ran up over the course of the lawsuit. So at least somebody came out as a winner, right? (The Hill)
The University of California system on Friday announced in a legal settlement with students and advocacy groups that it will no longer consider SAT and ACT scores when reviewing applications for admission or scholarships.
Under the settlement, the university has agreed that SAT or ACT scores sent along in admissions applications to any of the campuses in its system between fall 2021 and spring 2025 will not be viewed by admissions officials.
The university in May 2020 had already agreed to phase out the consideration of SAT and ACT scores for students applying for admission in or after fall 2025.
The claim being made in this case, as with others before it around the country, is that these standardized tests create “an unfair disadvantage on students of color, as well as those with disabilities and those from low-income families.” It’s the same pattern of complaints that have led to schools in New York and elsewhere eliminating their advanced studies programs designed to give the most successful students a leg up in the college admissions competition.
What’s really happening is quite simply a process of dumbing down the educational system. Rather than admitting that some students are naturally gifted or simply work harder, the bar is being lowered to the lowest common denominator. (Some of you students attending these schools today may need to Google “denominator” because I’m not sure they’re teaching math anymore.)
This isn’t meant to imply that there aren’t other factors involved that create an uneven playing field, but trying to describe it as a situation based solely on race is disingenuous. There are plenty of students out there who attend K-12 schools that are simply not getting the job done and they don’t receive the level of education required to excel in the SAT and ACT competitive environment. It’s also equally true that families of more modest financial means frequently can’t afford tutors, computer resources and other supplemental education resources that offer wealthier families an advantage. Since poverty and failing schools are frequently found in inner-city urban areas with high minority populations, that can lead to the perception that this is a racially defined problem, but the reality is that there are a lot of poor, white communities around the country facing the same challenges also.
What’s being done by these schools isn’t any sort of solution, however. All they are doing is disincentivizing students who are able to excel and perform at higher levels. What’s the point in studying harder if you’re going to graduate from an “everybody gets a trophy” school with no way to demonstrate that you’re one of the best prepared to tackle an advanced degree?
The real solution would be to lift up those who are falling behind by fixing the poorly performing schools rather than lowering the bar for everyone. Of course, that’s too difficult of a challenge and doesn’t serve any social justice narrative, so they won’t bother with that.