If the University of California drops the SAT, what would take its place?


Source: CalMatters

The debate over whether to stop using the SAT in admissions at the sprawling and nationally influential University of California is approaching a turning point. Anti-testing groups filed two lawsuits Tuesday demanding that the university drop the requirement for students to submit scores on the exam. This year’s Varsity Blues scandal illustrated just how far wealthy families will go to game it. And a growing number of UC regents and chancellors are publicly questioning its usefulness.

Less obvious, however, is what a post-SAT University of California might look like. Would the university simply go test-optional — letting students choose whether to submit scores — or test-flexible, accepting another standardized test in lieu of the SAT and its lesser-used cousin, the ACT? Should standardized tests be used just to decide whether an applicant is eligible for admission, or to winnow the pool of well-qualified contenders? And are test scores a necessary part of admissions at all?

Regardless of which path UC takes, eliminating the SAT requirement would likely not relieve the university’s ongoing capacity crunch. In fact, it could elicit more applications from students who otherwise might be deterred by their low test scores.

“The available evidence suggests the pool will get larger and more diverse,” said Chris Nellum, senior director of higher education research and policy at The Education Trust-West. “I think the UC is going to have to ask itself, ‘Can we accommodate those folks?’”

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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.