California University Sued Over Use of SAT and ACT

by Jenna Timmons ’21

Students, educators and advocates — with Kawika Smith as the lead Plaintiff — are suing the University of California over its use of the SAT and ACT in college admissions decisions. The lawsuit argues that using the tests for college admission purposes violates the state’s anti-discrimination statute because the tests put applicants of color from low-income families at a disadvantage. Even though the SAT and ACT have been used in admissions for decades and used to compare students on a national level, multiple universities across the nation have dropped them from admissions criteria, including prestigious schools such as University of Chicago.

Last year the University of California began to review its use of the SAT and ACT by asking a faculty task force to determine the exams’ impact. The university is “disappointed” about this lawsuit because the task force would finish soon next year. Mark Rosenbaum, an attorney with the pro bono law firm who is leading the legal effort (Pro Counsel), said the suit was too urgent to wait. The SAT and ACT are a “useless metric,” he said. “It is that garbage that is determining the fate of these students.” 

If this lawsuit is successful, it might not only affect the admissions process at the University of California, but impact universities all across America. “Once the SAT and ACT fall in California,” Rosenbaum said, “I think the rest of the country won’t be far behind.”