Major State College System Removes Standardized Test Admission Requirements

A large university system has removed standardized test requirements as part of college admission.

By Rick Gonzales | Published

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standardized tests

The state of California has shown in the past that it has no problem leading the way. High gas prices and tax rates are a couple of things the state stands head and shoulders above all other states, much to the chagrin of its residents. Now, though, the state is looking to lead the way in eliminating what many have been calling “racist” – standardized tests for college admission.

The California State University system will eliminate both the SAT and the ACT exams as one of their admission requirements, a move that follows last year’s decision by the University of California college system to do away with the standardized tests. The approval was unanimous by the California State University Board of Trustees and a welcome one for many across the Golden State.

In total, the California State University system has 23 colleges scattered across the state that has over 477,000 students enrolled. The University of California college system has over 280,000 enrolled students in its 10 colleges. Of course, this decision won’t have an effect on those already enrolled but will have a massive impact on those who may have otherwise been finding it difficult to get their SATs or ACTs completed in time for enrollment. And, according to acting Cal State system Chancellor Steve Relyea, the removal of standardized tests will help “level the playing field and provide greater access to a high-quality college degree for students from all backgrounds.”

standardized tests

The many critics of the standardized tests have had no problem calling them racist. They point out that low-income and minority college applicants are at a constant disadvantage when it comes to these tests and this requirement has long been a barrier. Critics have pointed to students whose parents have deep pockets that can pay for their child’s pricey standardized test preparation courses that low-income families cannot.

The University of California’s decision last year to remove standardized tests from their admission requirements was mainly based on a 2019 lawsuit that had been filed by a group of students, advocacy groups, and the Compton Unified School District. The district mainly represents Black and Hispanic students. The lawsuit claimed that because of those standardized tests, the college system illegally discriminated against college applicants because of their race and financial standing.

The settlement that was reached last year said that SAT or ACT scores will not be used as a requirement for university admissions from fall 2021 through spring 2025. If students chose to include these standardized tests, the scores would only be used to help a student’s placement for math or English courses. Also included in the settlement was a $1.2 million fee that the university system paid for the students’ lawyers.

standardized tests

Like most universities across the country, California’s suspended the standardized tests during the COVID pandemic, not requiring them for admissions during the 2021-22 academic year as well as for 2022-23. Instead, nearly 80% of universities and colleges in the U.S. either went with test-optional or score-free policies. The popularity of this has caused a whole bunch of schools to keep the policy in place and many of them adopting it permanently.

Bob Schaeffer, executive director of Boston-based anti-testing group FairTest, says the country is watching California’s ban on standardized tests and he believes the state will “set a standard. It is not an accident that so many other public systems, literally from Washington state to Maine, now have similar policies. The whole country is watching California, and largely following the state’s lead,” Schaeffer said to the AP News.

As with the University of California’s decision to use the standardized tests for course placement, the California State University system will do the same. Prior to both California college systems making this landmark decision, admissions were handled differently during the pandemic suspension of requirements. Instead of looking at the standardized test scores, high school grade point averages were leaned on heavily as were a student’s leadership role they established and their extracurricular activities. A number of colleges and universities also took into consideration if applicants were first-generation students or if they came from schools that had a large majority of low-income students.

In California now, none of this matters. Nor does having to take a stressful standardized test. The decision to no longer use them as an admission requirement will open up higher education to so many more students, and that is a good thing.