Students, educators and advocates have filed a lawsuit against the University of California, alleging that requiring SAT and ACT tests for admission violates the rights of disadvantaged students.
The SAT and ACT has been criticized by critics who present research that shows that scores are strongly associated with race, family income and student background. A 2015 analysis concluded that the lowest SAT scores were among students from families who made less than $20,000 a year, while the highest were among students from families who made more than $200,000 a year.
Kawika Smith, a Los Angeles high school senior who is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, said the tests are flawed. He took the test recently and hasn’t gotten his score yet, but expects that he will do poorly on it. Smith said the score doesn’t reflect his ability and effort he has put into maintaining good grades, as he went through homelessness, hunger and death of his brother earlier this year.
Smith said he doesn’t think he will get accepted into top schools like UCLA and UC Berkeley without a good SAT score.
Mark Rosenbaum, an attorney for the lawsuit, said the SAT and ACT are a useless metric.
“It is known that these tests discriminate based on race,” Rosenbaum added, “and the failure to do anything about it, the stubborn insistence that discriminatory metrics must be part of the college admissions process, that is a smoking gun. It is a smoking gun telling us how deliberate racial discrimination works in the year 2019.”
The College Board, who makes the SAT, argued that the test isn’t discriminatory.
“Any objective measure of student achievement will shine a light on inequalities in our education system,” Jerome White, a spokesman, said in a statement. The company said it has recently redesigned the exam to “improve college readiness and break down barriers to college” and it makes free personalized practice materials available to all students.
“Once the SAT and ACT fall in California,” Rosenbaum said, “I think the rest of the country won’t be far behind.”