University of California System Considers Going Test-Optional

In a recent Board of Regents meeting, UC President Janet Napolitano announced that the United States’ largest university system may drop its SAT/ACT requirement for admission. This development comes amid a growing test-optional movement among American colleges and universities.

Last year, the UC Senate launched a study to test the connection between SAT/ACT scores and eventual academic success among UC students. The study’s results will not be released until February 2020, but video from the recent Board of Regents meeting indicates that some members of the board would like to make a decision before the UC Senate completes its study (section begins around 2:26). 

Advocates of dropping the SAT/ACT requirement cite the connection between student scores and race and socioeconomic status, while proponents of taking a slower pace voiced concerns that dropping the SAT/ACT too quickly may simply lead to another test taking its place. For her part, Napolitano urged the Board to allow the Senate to complete its study before making any decision.

If the University of California system were to drop its testing requirement, the impact on college admissions testing would be seismic, particularly for the SAT. Most students who apply to University of California schools take the SAT, and the system makes up the largest single source of test-takers for the College Board. More importantly, the decision of the largest university system in the country would very likely shape policy decisions elsewhere in the coming years. Whatever the decision in California, it will have consequences far beyond the Golden State.

It is unknown what impact, if any, the end of Janet Napolitano’s tenure will have on the decision and on any ensuing plans. Napolitano announced last month that she will be stepping down as the President of the UC system in August 2020.


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