- The California State University system, the largest four-year higher education network in the U.S., will consider early next year whether to permanently end admissions test requirements. System Chancellor Joseph Castro this week expressed support for the move.
- A system committee recently advised that Cal State stop using SAT and ACT scores in admissions. Under the committee's recommendations, Cal State would develop a new admissions formula that examines factors such as students' high school GPA across a series of college preparatory courses and their extracurricular activities, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the news.
- Cal State's board of trustees will review the panel's recommendation in January and vote on it in March.
Cal State's termination of entrance exams would be further upheaval of the standardized testing landscape after the University of California System recently dropped the SAT and ACT in admissions.
Hundreds of colleges nationwide turned to test-optional admissions policies in early 2020 after the coronavirus pandemic shuttered common exam sites. But Cal State is influential: the system enrolls more than 485,000 students on 23 campuses, and its decision to nix admissions tests permanently would represent a major victory for the test-optional campaign because of its sheer size and prominence.
It would also deliver a heavy blow to testing providers, the ACT and College Board, which administers the SAT. Both hemorrhaged revenue during the health crisis.
The testing giants argue their products serve as an appropriate predictor of early academic performance, while opponents say they are racist instruments that contribute to the marginalization of historically underrepresented students. The providers say the exams are not racist.
Cal State is not requiring test scores for the 2022-23 academic year, a temporary change to alleviate pandemic-induced hardships among students, Cal State spokesperson Toni Molle said in an email.
Castro voiced support for further knocking down Cal State's admission barriers during a webinar this week sponsored by the Campaign for College Opportunity, a college access advocacy group. He said he supports ending testing requirements to that end.
Molle said the system's Admission Advisory Council suggested the system discontinue any use of testing in first-year admissions, but declined to provide a copy of its recommendation, saying it is in draft form.
The Campaign for College Opportunity recently published a report illustrating how the Cal State and UC systems are turning away qualified applicants.
Almost half of California high school graduates meet the systems' coursework requirements, but because of capacity issues, colleges' admissions standards are rising. This phenomenon has coincided with falling shares of Black students at Cal State.The portion of Black first-year students dropped from 7.2% in the class entering in 2007 to 4.5% in 2020, according to the report.
California is one of the largest testing markets in the country, and its institutions have been on the forefront of these issues. In addition to UC's decision to scrap admissions tests, the California Institute of Technology was one of the first prominent institutions to go test-free during the pandemic, meaning it declines to review scores at all.
More than 1,800 four-year colleges are not requiring admissions exams for fall 2022, including those that were test-optional prior to the pandemic, according to FairTest, an organization that advocates for limited uses of entrance exams.