UPDATE: Dec. 10, 2019: In a lawsuit filed Tuesday against the University of California Board of Regents, advocacy groups argue that the SAT and ACT discriminates against students based on income, race and disability, and they demand the system discontinue the test as an admissions requirement.
- Lawyers representing four students, six nonprofits and the Compton Unified School District, a historically impoverished jurisdiction, wrote to the system's board of regents directly in late October, threatening to sue if it wouldn't drop the tests.
- The lawsuit comes as more selective colleges eliminate standardized tests from their admissions requirements in response to pushback on the practice.
- A potential move to eliminate the requirement would likely be significant and far-reaching. It is one of the nation's largest and most influential public research systems, enrolling more than 222,400 undergraduates.
California is the largest state market for college admissions exams, said Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest), in a press release sent to Education Dive.
"The University of California is one of the world's most highly respected public higher education systems," Schaeffer said. "If U.C. ends its ACT/SAT testing requirements — as this action and the facts supporting it demand — many other institutions are likely to follow suit."
Lawyers for the groups involved in the lawsuit argue that the tests violate numerous state civil liberties. The students are "well-qualified" to enter college, the lawyers wrote to the regents, but "have been subject to unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, disability, and wealth" as a result of the standardized testing requirement.
The system had no comment when the groups first threatened to sue in October.
Many four-year universities have already scaled back on using the SAT and ACT as a condition for admission. More than 1,000 U.S. institutions are test-optional, according to FairTest. That number started to grow after the University of Chicago announced last year it would get rid of its requirement.
U of California's Academic Senate was already studying whether the ACT and SAT were appropriate metrics of academic performance. Its recommendations were expected in the 2019-20 academic year, however, the groups writing to the regents said the matter needed to be resolved immediately.
"We don't need to wait for yet another study to prove that the SAT and ACT are meaningless and unjust," said Gregory Ellis, co-counsel on the case and a lawyer at the firm Scheper Kim & Harris, in the statement. "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."