Back in May, the University of California Board of Regents voted to pause the standardized testing requirement for incoming freshmen, due to difficulties faced by students during the pandemic. However, the decision did allow universities to consider ACT and SAT scores on an voluntary basis. The Berkeley, Irvine, and Santa Cruz campuses decided not to accept test scores at all, while the other six campuses (Los Angeles, Davis, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, and Santa Barbara) decided to allow students to submit them for consideration.
Now, a group of students with disabilities has filed a lawsuit, alleging this situation created an uneven playing field and placed them at a disadvantage. The judge in the case, Brad Seligman, ordered all nine University of California campuses to suspend the use of ACT and SAT scores in determining admissions. He wrote:
“Plaintiffs have shown that they are denied meaningful access to the additional ‘benefit, aid or service’ that the test option affords. Unlike their non-disabled peers, they do not have the option to submit test scores; even if they did, their chances of obtaining necessary test accommodations are virtually non-existent”.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit say that while testing was optional during the Spring, they were not necessarily able to access a safe testing site. Therefore, the use of SAT and ACT scores to determine admission by some universities placed them at an unfair disadvantage, compared with non-disabled students who were able to take the tests.
The ruling applies to the University of California system only, and does not impact the California State University system at this time. That system also decided to make testing optional for the 2021-2022 incoming class.
The suspension in use of ACT and SAT scores is temporary for now, while the lawsuit is ongoing. The next court date for the case is scheduled for September 29.