California State University prepares to permanently remove SAT, ACT from admissions process

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California State University, the nation’s largest four-year college system, is set to eliminate standardized SAT and ACT tests from its undergraduate admissions process, following a trend in the higher education who fear exams are unfair to minority and low-income students.

The 23-campus CSU system’s board of directors will vote in March on recommendations to end testing requirements, which were presented at a meeting on Wednesday and sparked widespread excitement.

“This problem of SAT and ACT tests has overwhelmed students and families for a long time,” said administrator Diego Arambula. “It’s so important to do this.”

California State University has 486,000 students. If administrators vote to eliminate exams altogether, CSU will join the University of California in having a “blind” admissions process. UC’s board of trustees voted last year to drop standardized testing on its nine undergraduate campuses.

Critics have long argued that standardized tests disadvantage minority and low-income students, in part because test questions may contain inherent biases that more privileged children are better equipped to answer. They also say that wealthier students usually take expensive prep courses that help boost their scores, which many students can’t afford.

Like many colleges and universities, California State University has temporarily suspended the use of SAT and ACT exams during the COVID-19 pandemic and this rule remains in effect through the 2022-23 academic year.

The system’s Admissions Advisory Board, made up of faculty, students, and various student administrators and leaders, studied what to do next and approved a recommendation to end testing, which was discussed. at Wednesday’s meeting.

According to the recommendation, Cal State would base admission on a formula in which a high school GPA would be most heavily weighted, but would also consider extracurricular activities like leadership work and whether an applicant is a first-generation student or comes from a school with a high percentage of low-income students.

“As we continue to evolve our admissions standards, we do so with a focus on fairness and increased awareness of new standardized test scores data,” said Deputy Vice Chancellor April Grommo. She cited a CSU study of the incoming freshman class in 2018 that found that SAT scores added no further indication on high school GPA of a student’s success in the college system.

Many US colleges have adopted an “optional test” policy, but standardized tests would not count toward CSU admissions at all under the proposed policy, Grommo said.

“An elective test basically sends mixed messages to students,” she said. Students ultimately feel they must pass the standardized tests to gain an advantage in the admissions process.

If a student submits an SAT or ACT score, it could be used for placement in math or English classes, but not for admissions.

The College Board, which administers the SAT, announced on Tuesday that the test will move online to a digital format, instead of being a paper and pencil exam, and that it will be shortened from three hours to two hours. The format change is set to roll out next year in the U.S. and in 2024 internationally, as part of an effort to boost the relevance of the exams as more colleges make the test optional. , did he declare.

But those changes won’t impact the proposal before Cal State administrators, said Sylvia Alva, executive vice chancellor for university and student affairs.

Administrator Yammilette Rodriguez hailed the plan as one that will help students avoid what she went through.

“I had a GPA of 4.0 but I didn’t have the support to guide me and my parents didn’t have this information to help guide me,” said Rodriguez, who said she was went to a rural high school that lacked academic support. She missed the SAT deadlines and didn’t take the test, then went to community college before she could transfer to California State University, Fresno.

“As someone who has navigated the college system alone and I know I share this story with so many students, thank you for saying that we are going to increase pathways for all students,” he said. she stated.

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