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University of California system will no longer consider SAT, ACT scores in admissions process

The University of California system on Friday announced in a legal settlement with students and advocacy groups that it will no longer consider SAT and ACT scores when reviewing applications for admission or scholarships. 

Under the settlement, the university has agreed that SAT or ACT scores sent along in admissions applications to any of the campuses in its system between fall 2021 and spring 2025 will not be viewed by admissions officials. 

The university in May 2020 had already agreed to phase out the consideration of SAT and ACT scores for students applying for admission in or after fall 2025. 

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The decision makes the University of California, which has nine campuses across the state and a total of about 225,000 undergraduate students, one of the largest schools to cut ties with the standardized tests that for decades have been an essential component in college admissions. 

Friday’s settlement seemingly ends a prolonged legal dispute over the use of standardized tests. In a 2019 lawsuit, a coalition of students, advocacy groups and the Compton Unified School District argued that the tests place an unfair disadvantage on students of color, as well as those with disabilities and those from low-income families. 

The University of California had joined other universities last year in making SAT and ACT scores optional for applications due to the coronavirus pandemic, and had already decided to extend this optional period another year. 

However, students sued the university, alleging that providing the option to voluntarily submit scores would still be unfair to students with disabilities, many of whom were not able to take the tests with their needed accommodations during the pandemic. 

Last year, Alameda Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman issued a preliminary injunction blocking UC universities from accepting standardized test scores while the complaint was considered in court. 

The university filed an appeal to the decision, with a spokesman at the time saying it would also explore a settlement “that would provide certainty for students and their families, counselors, and high schools,” The New York Times reported. 

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Friday’s settlement, which was officially approved by the UC Board of Regents Thursday, also states that the university system will pay more than $1.2 million to the lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. 

The settlement also states that should UC choose to use an alternative exam during the admissions process in the future, it “will consider access for students with disabilities in the design and implementation of any such exam.” 

Amanda Savage, one of the lawyers representing the students in the lawsuit, told the Times that the settlement “ensures that the university will not revert to its planned use of the SAT and ACT — which its own regents have admitted are racist metrics.”