The California State University Board of Trustees voted unanimously Wednesday to no longer use the standardized SAT and ACT tests in undergraduate admissions.
This means that even if an applicant submits scores for admission to one of the system’s 23 campuses, California state admissions counselors will not review them. The system’s campuses serve a total of 477,000 students.
“This decision aligns with California State University’s ongoing efforts to level the playing field and provide greater access to a high-quality college degree for students of all backgrounds,” Acting Chancellor Steve Relyea said. “Essentially, we are eliminating our reliance on a high-stress, high-stakes test that has shown negligible benefit and providing our candidates with greater opportunities to demonstrate their drive, talents, and potential for academic success. .”
This move was endorsed by the Cal State Students Association and the California State University Academic Senate.
The decision follows a similar vote by the University of California board of trustees in 2020. It means testing companies won’t do business with most students who apply to public colleges in the most state. populated by the country. (Some students will continue to apply to private colleges, which have a range of policies on the SAT and ACT). The University of California vote was at the start of the pandemic, and the California state vote could be at the end. But officials from both systems said their policies were adopted without regard to the pandemic, but rather as long-term approaches to admissions.
Robert Schaeffer, executive director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest), said Cal State’s system has “set a standard for public institutions across the country. Combined with the elimination of standardized exam mandates by the University of California system as well as optional testing policies in place on all public campuses in Oregon and Washington State, these actions make west coast a national model for admissions reform.
And, he said, “higher education policymakers across the country are watching closely and broadly following the movement. It’s no coincidence that so many other public systems – literally from Colorado to Maine – no longer require applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores. Optional test admissions are now the new norm in public higher education, as they are in liberal arts colleges.
The ACT criticized the California State University board’s vote.
“This decision is more likely to harm than help students. Abandoning the use of objective assessments like the ACT test introduces greater subjectivity and uncertainty into the admissions process, and this move is likely to deepen entrenched inequalities in California,” the ACT said in a statement. “Troubling gaps in academic achievement and performance show up in the same way for academic measures like high school GPA as they do for standardized exams. In reality, ACT research has shown that voluntary testing policies do not have the effects suggested by advocates, such as increasing the diversity of the candidate pool. The suggestion that the test offers “negligible additional value” is refuted by research whose conclusions are openly adopted by many institutions, such as Harvard University. Addressing the systemic inequalities in education that exist in this country requires attention and focus on the root causes, rather than rejecting tools that significantly improve our understanding of them.
The College Board did not respond to a request for comment.
The move was welcomed by Michele Siqueiros, chair of the Campaign for College Opportunities. “A single 3-hour test on a Saturday morning never measured a student’s full talent or potential. What these tests measured was the unfair advantage enjoyed by privileged and wealthier students, including access to expensive test prep, which focuses on how to “play” the test instead to measure the knowledge acquired by students in their high school courses.
The Cal State Board of Trustees acted as many other colleges, public and private, also moved away from testing requirements.
Wednesday, Southern Methodist Universitywhich was tested as an option during the pandemic, said it would remain so for at least a year, for students applying for admission in fall 2023 and spring 2024.
“Since implementing a temporary optional testing policy in 2020, the Admissions Committee continues to attract high-performing students who bring great talent to our campus,” said Wes Waggoner, Associate Vice President of SMU for registration management.
And in Georgia, the Board of Regents recently announcement that 23 of its institutions (all but Georgia College & State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Georgia) can assess applicants in fall 2022 regardless of SAT/ACT scores.
This has already prompted colleges to start dropping SAT/ACT requirements—University of Southern Georgia announced that no SAT or ACT score was needed. Valdosta State University announced that students who have a grade point average of 3.2 or higher in high school no longer need to submit their grades.
Ryan Hogan, director of admissions at VSU, said the goal was to help break down some of the barriers new freshmen have faced since the COVID-19 pandemic began. “This latest update to our admissions process will certainly expand our ability to grow our vibrant and diverse community by eliminating additional costs and test score anxiety for this select group of hard-working students.” said Hogan.