The Future of Standardized Testing

Carys Law ‘21

On December 10th, a coalition of students and advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against the University of California (UC) system for their use of standardized testing as a requirement for admission; They seek to get rid of testing requirements in the state of California.  The group is represented by the Public Counsel, the largest pro bono public interest law firm in the world.  


The prosecution is comprised of four students, six nonprofits and the Compton Unified School District.  They allege that the SAT and ACT are being used by the UC system to knowingly keep out students of color and disabilities from their schools [1].  Admissions are especially biased towards black and Hispanic students, which, under the California Constitution, is illegal to discriminate “against applicants on the basis of their race, wealth and disability” [2].


Nick Beckman, ‘21, vocalizes: “I think it would be a good change because right now, those with more money have the advantage.  Applications, test prep, etc. all cost money. If standardized testing is made optional, it would be a fairer process for those less fortunate.”


This lawsuit has brought about a discussion on the need for standardized test scores.  More than 1,000 schools across the country have gone test-optional. Recently, the University of Chicago, a competitive top-ranked school, dropped their test requirements.  Some university leaders have expressed their support: Carol Christ, chancellor of UC Berkeley revealed that she was “very much in favor of doing away with the SAT or ACT as a requirement for application to the University of California,” but UC Berkeley quickly clarified that in no way did this comment signify a policy change [3]


Still, the plaintiffs of Public Counsel are seeking more than just making schools test-optional.  They aim to keep students from submitting test scores altogether. Such a ban on one of the most prestigious and extensive public school systems in the United States would send a ripple across the whole country.  If they succeed, the implications for universities all over the country would be game-changing. But until then, students will just have to reach for the stars.