The University of California system has long debated dropping the tests, and some university leaders have expressed their support. At an event in November, Carol Christ, the chancellor of UC Berkeley, said, "I'm very much in favor of doing away with the SAT or ACT as a requirement for application to the University of California." UC Berkeley was quick to clarify that comment didn't signal a policy change.
UC spokeswoman Claire Doan couldn't comment on the lawsuit because it hadn't been filed yet. She says a special faculty task force is currently investigating the use of standardized testing in admissions, and the university system is "waiting for the assessment and recommendations from the ... Task Force before determining whether any steps should be taken on this important issue."
The university has been evaluating the requirement through a policy lens, but the lawsuit argues it's a legal issue: "This policy illegally discriminates against applicants on the basis of race and wealth, and thereby denies them equal protection under the California Constitution."
The University of California serves more than 250,000 students and is one of the largest school systems in the country. About 50 years ago, the system adopted the SAT as a way to weed out applicants — a decision that helped elevate the test to a national standard.
But research has since shown that SAT scores are strongly linked to family income, and a student's high school academic record, regardless of what school they attended, does a far better job of predicting college success.
The College Board, the organization behind the SAT, says grades and test scores function together, providing "more insight into a student's potential to succeed than either measure alone." Research conducted by the College Board maintains that SAT scores are predictive of success in college. The ACT says its test is not biased. In a statement, it tells NPR, "Blaming standardized tests for differences in educational quality and opportunities that exist will not improve educational outcomes."