After dropping SAT and ACT, University of California urged not to add new admissions test

By Michael Burke, EdSource

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

Instead, the committee says UC should explore giving students the option to submit their 11th grade Smarter Balanced exams, the state’s annual standardized tests, for consideration when applying for admission to the system’s nine undergraduate campuses.

Students can practice with a free SAT online prep program. But UC will no longer require the test or the ACT alternative. Courtesy Photo – Fermin Leal/EdSource Today 

The committee determined that the Smarter Balanced exam would be an improvement from the SAT and ACT because unlike those exams, the Smarter Balanced test assesses curriculum that is aligned with standards being taught in the state’s public schools and with other UC admission requirements.

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

Already, the idea is facing some pushback. In fact, a majority of members of a UC work group that was tasked with studying the idea were opposed to using the Smarter Balanced test at all when selecting students for admission and submitted a memo criticizing the work group’s final report for not accurately representing their views. That report, which recommended further exploration of using the Smart Balanced exams in admissions, was the basis for the committee’s final recommendation.

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The work group’s report acknowledged several potential issues with using the Smarter Balanced exams. For example, the report cited significant racial disparities in Smarter Balanced test scores just like there are in SAT and ACT scores. Those disparities were a main reason that the Regents decided to stop using the SAT and ACT in admissions.

It’s also not clear what it would mean for students who don’t have access to the Smarter Balanced exams, including most out-of-state students, international students and private schools students.

Ultimately, the committee determined that the Smarter Balanced test “has several features that render it worth” consideration, including that it measures the Common Core standards that are taught in California’s K-12 schools. Those standards are integrated into California’s A-G course requirements that students must take to be eligible for admission into the UC and the 23-campus California State University, the state’s other four-year university system.

The committee also stressed that any use of Smarter Balanced exams in admissions should be low-stakes, which is why it recommended that UC consider giving students the option to submit their scores if they think it will help their application, without requiring them to do so.

“We propose that the Smarter Balanced Assessment be further studied and evaluated … and that it be considered for use in a manner that is different from the previous high-stakes …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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