Alameda County Superior Court orders UC to cease SAT, ACT use in admissions

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Sunny Shen/Senior Staff
The preliminary injunction, issued by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman, stems from the reasoning that the UC system’s ‘test-optional’ policy grants privileged students an unfair admissions advantage.

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A preliminary injunction granted Tuesday by the Alameda County Superior Court requires the UC system to immediately halt its use of the SAT and ACT as part of its admissions process.

According to attorney Mark Rosenbaum, who represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman granted the injunction on the basis that the UC system’s “test-optional” alternative to requiring the SAT and ACT would violate components of the Americans with Disabilities Act specific to California law. Attorney Abigail Graber, who also represented the plaintiffs, added that students with disabilities who are approved for accommodations often cannot take the test since the College Board does not require testing sites to provide accommodations.

“The purpose of the lawsuit was to focus on the question of whether or not we can use the SAT and the ACT, and it really is a legal question,” Rosenbaum said. “The use of the tests break the law — they break California anti-discrimination laws. Judge Seligman nailed it. If you are a student with a disability in this ‘test-optional’ system, you don’t have the option to take it.”

The ruling comes as positive news for students who do not have the resources to hire tutors or practice every day, according to ASUC Senator Mateo Torrico. He added that many of the students who cannot access these tools tend to be students of color, which creates a sense of inequality around admissions.

Torrico added that by removing standardized testing, the ruling would help bring about a more holistic review in the admissions process.

“The Preliminary Injunction is crystal clear that there cannot be a level playing field for test takers with disabilities,” said Robert Schaeffer, interim executive director at the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, in a press release from the pro bono law firm Public Counsel. “This ruling has national implications — the same protections under the Americans with Disability Act should apply to all test-takers across the nation.”

In response to the injunction, the UC system released a statement disagreeing with the ruling. According to the statement, the university had planned to continue with a test-optional approach until 2023, at which point admissions would not consider SAT or ACT results.

The aim of the test-optional approach for applicants was to minimize the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the statement. While the university has not yet decided on whether to take further legal action, it stated in a court document that it will continue to research alternative admissions processes.

“UC respectfully disagrees with the Court’s ruling,” the statement reads. “An injunction may interfere with the University’s efforts to implement appropriate and comprehensive admissions policies and its ability to attract and enroll students of diverse backgrounds and experiences.”

Contact Aditya Katewa at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @adkatewa1.