University of California President Janet Napolitano Wants to End SAT/ACT Requirement

Written by Michael Palomba

Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California system, would like to see an end in using the ACT and SAT as admission requirements.

In her recent proposal, Napolitano recommends a complicated plan that would make the tests optional for two years and eliminate them entirely in the years that follow, with the University of California adopting its own standardized test.

She alone, however, can’t make this decision. The UC Senate needs to approve whatever plan will be used going forward. The Senate recently voted unanimously to keep the SAT and ACT requirements intact for the next five years. Those five years would be used to research and consider alternatives. 

Senate Chair Kum-Kum Bhavani indicated that she supported many aspects of Napolitano’s plan. She said that Napolitano adopted many key recommendations in the faculty task report on testing, including the development of a new assessment for the UC system. 

“The Senate is pleased that the president’s recommendations are in line with the spirit of our recommendations,” Bhavnani said. “We look forward to working with the university to develop a new content-based test.”

Anti-standardized testing advocates have argued that the tests put minorities and low-income students at a disadvantage. They claim the tests are biased and that privileged children are more likely to do well. They also claim that the ability of some students to afford tutoring or test prep is unfair.

With all UCs currently closed and SAT/ACT tests canceled around the country, all UC schools have waived the requirement for the fall semester. However, it appears that Napolitano is taking advantage of the crisis to push her anti-SAT/ACT agenda and make the suspension of the requirement permanent. 

Standardized tests aren’t racist. The ability of some students to get tutoring is simply a fact of life, and should not be used as ammunition against the standardized tests. Tutoring sessions are available for all kinds of tests in various stages of life, so how does it equate to racism and inequality only when looking at the SAT/ACT?

At the end of the day, there’s likely no fairer way to administer a test than to give everyone the same one. College Board and ACT have come out against allegations of bias and say that the tests act as a good way of assessing students across the country.