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Judge says University of California school system must stop using SAT, ACT scores in admissions

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The University of California, Berkeley’s Campanile Clock Tower. 

The University of California school system must stop using SAT or ACT scores while making admissions and scholarships decisions, a judge ruled Tuesday. 

The decision comes in response to a lawsuit filed earlier this year alleging the admittance of such scores during the coronavirus pandemic harmed disabled students who lacked the same test-taking opportunities as nondisabled individuals. Alameda Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman issued a preliminary injunction blocking UC universities from accepting standard test scores in their admissions processes as the complaint is argued in court. 

“The current COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in restrictions in the availability of test-sites. While test-taking opportunities for all students have been limited, for persons with disabilities, the ability to obtain accomodations or even locate suitable test locations for the test is ‘almost nil,’ ” Seligman said in a 17-page decision

The University of California Board of Regents in May announced it was waiving the standardized test requirement for freshman applicants until 2024. The board added it would officially eliminate the requirement if a new test did not meet certain criteria by 2025. 

However, Seligman’s decision noted that the move left it to schools whether they would use ACT or SAT scores if prospective students submitted them in their applications. For schools who do accept test scores, disabled students are denied the same opportunities that test-takers have, Seligman wrote. 

“In short, students with disabilities are denied the same option and second chance for admissions that non-disabled applicants enjoy in the test-optional regime,” he said.

A spokesperson for the University of California told CNN that it “respectfully disagrees with the Court’s ruling.” The spokesperson said the UC system was considering further legal action. 

“An injunction may interfere with the University’s efforts to implement an appropriate and comprehensive admissions policies and its ability to attract and enroll students of diverse backgrounds and experiences,” the spokesperson said.
Several universities earlier this year began waiving standardized test requirements because of the coronavirus pandemic and the widespread shuttering of schools. More than two dozen institutions said they would waive the requirement for students applying to begin in the 2021 school year, according to The New York Times
The case in California was brought by six organizations and five students. The next court date in the case has been scheduled for Sept. 29.
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