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After eliminating SAT and ACT, the University of California urged not to add a new admissions test


Students can practice with a free online SAT prep program. But UC will no longer require the test or the ACT alternative.

After eliminating the SAT and ACT in freshman admissions, the University of California should not develop its own test or use any other standardized tests as a test requirement. admission, has recommended a key university committee.

Instead, the committee says UC should explore the possibility of giving students the option of taking their 11th grade Smarter Balanced tests, the standardized tests. annual state, for its consideration when applying for admission to the nine university campuses of the system. The committee determined that the Smarter Balanced test would be an enhancement to the SAT and ACT because, unlike those tests, the Smarter Balanced test assesses curriculum that is aligned with the standards taught in the state's public schools and with other UC admission requirements.

The proposal, which will be before the UC Board of Regents next week for discussion, is far from final. Even if implemented, it would not go into effect for several years and the test would need to be modified for use in admissions.

The idea is already facing a setback. In fact, the majority of the members of a UC task force tasked with studying the idea were opposed to using the Smarter Balanced test at all when selecting students for admission and submitted a memorandum criticizing the final report. of the working group for not accurately representing their views. . That report, which recommended further exploration of the use of Smart Balanced tests in admissions, was the basis for the committee's final recommendation.

The task force report recognized several potential problems with the use of the Smarter Balanced exams. For example, the report cited significant racial disparities in Smarter Balanced test scores, as well as SAT and ACT scores. Those disparities were the main reason the Regents decided to stop using the SAT and ACT in admissions.

It is also unclear what it would mean for students who do not have access to the Smarter Balanced exams, including most out-of-state students, international students, and private school students.

Finally, the committee determined that the Smarter Balanced test "has several characteristics that make it worthwhile" to consider, including that it measures the common core standards taught in K schools. -12 from California. Those standards are built into the requirements for California A-G courses that students must take to be eligible for admission to UC and 23-campus California State University, the state's other four-year college system.

The committee also emphasized that any use of the Smarter Balanced exams in admissions should be low risk, recommending that UC consider giving students the option to submit their scores if they believe that will help your request, without requiring them. to do it.

"We propose that the Smarter Balanced Assessment be further studied and evaluated… and that its use be considered in a different way than the previous high-risk use of the SAT or ACT," UC Provost Michael Brown and President of the Academic Senate of UC Mary Gauvain wrote in a letter to Michael Drake, UC president. Brown and Gauvain were co-chairs of the committee.

Last May, the UC Board of Regents voted to eliminate the SAT and ACT as an admission requirement for freshmen. Subsequently, the task force was charged with determining whether UC should create its own test or use a different standardized test in freshman admissions and was asked to present a recommendation to a steering committee separately, which would then make a recommendation to the UC president's office.

The working group initially considered whether UC could develop its own standardized test. However, that idea was quickly scrapped, and the task force decided that it would not be possible to create a new test within the time constraints set by the Regents. The Regents specified that a new test would be needed for fall 2025 applicants, meaning it should be implemented by spring 2024. The task force determined that it would take at least nine years to develop such a test.

Instead, the working group decided that modifying an existing test would be feasible and, in its final report to the steering committee, specifically recommended a "further exploration" of the Smarter Balanced assessment to Admission purposes.

In addition to being aligned with state curriculum standards, the Smart Balanced test is also administered free of charge to all public school students in California, which means that there would be no additional cost to those students or their families. .

However, the committee and task force also recognized a number of potential drawbacks to using the Smarter Balanced exams. The Smarter Balanced test was not designed as an admissions test, so its use in admissions could be wrong.

Smarter Balanced scores for 11th grade students also show large disparities across racial and ethnic lines. For example, the report notes that in math, 70% of Asian students and 45% of white students meet or exceed standards, compared to 20% of black and Latino students. It is not clear, according to the report, if the Smarter Balanced test is more equitable than the SAT and ACT.

The Smarter Balanced exam is also offered only once to high school students, which means that they cannot retake the exam in an effort to get a better score something that was an option with the SAT and ACT.

The working group was divided on whether to explore the use of Smarter Balanced exams in the selection of candidates. Ten of the 18 members of the task force submitted a memorandum expressing their opposition to the use of the test when selecting students for admission.

In that memo, all 10 members say that the final report "wrongly favors the opinion" of the minority of the working group "rather than our majority position."

“In my experience, it is common for a minority opinion not to be adequately expressed in a group report, which we saw with the Faculty Working Group Report; however, it is highly unusual or unheard of for a majority opinion not to be adequately expressed in a group report, ”wrote Jay Rosner, executive director of the Princeton Review Foundation and a member of the committee. He wrote the memorandum on behalf of himself and nine other members.

Rosner declined to comment Tuesday, saying it would be inappropriate to do so before the Regents have a chance to discuss the issue.

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