We Don't Need No Education: University of California Votes Unanimously to Dump the ACT and SAT

AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File
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File – In this Dec. 21, 2014 file photo, late light falls on Wheeler Hall, South Hall and the Campanile on the University of California campus in Berkeley, Calif. University of California officials have proposed limiting nonresident enrollment to 20 percent of all undergraduate students, in an effort to prioritize in-state applicants. The proposal introduced Monday, March 6, 2017, would be the first limit of its kind for the 10-campus public university. The Board of Regents will consider it starting next week. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)


I sometimes find myself at odds with major moves of the world. For example: Our culture is filled with notions of people needing to feel empowered, but I see a society suffering from narcissism and in desperate need of humility.

To be similarly filed under Something I Don’t Understand, the University of California recently joined a grand collection of colleges in ending the use of old-school standardized tests as determinants for admission.

On Thursday, UC’s board of regents voted — get this — 23-0 to dump the SAT and ACT.

It was a ratification of UC President Janet Napolitano’s proposal.

In 2018, she offered the following in a letter:

“This seems like a good opportunity to review the role of admissions in UC eligibility and admissions, something I understand the Board on Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS) does periodically but may not have done since 2010.”


“I request, therefore, that the Academic Senate, through BOARS, examine the academic use of standardized tests for UC admission; review the testing principles developed in 2002 and revised in 2010; and determine whether any changes in admission testing policies or practices are necessary to ensure the university continues to use standardized tests in an appropriate way.”


In a missive to BOAR for Thursday’s meeting, Janet laid it out:

“In this action item, the President of the University recommends that the Regents approve a suspension of the current standardized test (ACT/SAT) requirement for undergraduate admissions until 2024 to allow the University to modify or create a new test…”

Okay, but here’s the most interesting part. Let’s replay that, with the end of that sentence now attached. In my view, it’s the last few words that raise the biggest questions:

“[T]he President of the University recommends that the Regents approve a suspension of the current standardized test (ACT/SAT) requirement for undergraduate admissions until 2024 to allow the University to modify or create a new test that better aligns with the content UC expects applicants to have learned and with UC’s values.”

Wanting students to have learned certain things before entering college makes sense (Wasn’t that already the point of the ACT and SAT?); but what the heck are “UC’s values”? And what does that have to do with education? At a (public) school?

Is No Standards the new standard?

Could be:

“If UC is unable to either modify or create a test that can be available for fall 2025 freshman applicants from California high schools, the President recommends that UC eliminate altogether its standardized testing requirement for admissions for California students.”


UC is certainly not alone. As noted by The Wall Street Journal, “More than 1,000 colleges and universities have gone ‘test optional,’ with the pace of schools dropping the exam accelerating in recent years in an attempt to level the admissions playing field.”

I covered UC’s impending change — along with an analysis — in December, amid discussion of a valedictorian’s struggle to pass remedial college math:

[The] University of California (is) poised to no longer require the SAT because of the racial impact it has on admissions.

Sounds like a plan.

Plan = Horrible plan.

But for would-be struggling valedictorians, I offer good news on that front, as summarized in my headline from last May:

High School Gets Rid of Valedictorian & Salutatorian to Help Students’ Mental Health, End ‘Competitive Culture’ of Achievement

I mentioned above that UC wants something which more appropriately reflects its “values…”

I’m just spitballing here, but when it comes to education, if your standard is No Standards, perhaps your “values” have no value.



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