According to a compromise deal reached Friday, the University of California scheme would no longer require SAT or ACT ratings for enrolment or scholarship decisions.
The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed last year by a coalition of students and advocacy groups arguing that the tests are inherently discriminatory.
“Today’s settlement ensures that the university will not revert to its planned use of the SAT and ACT – which its own regents have admitted are racist metrics,” Amanda Savage, a lawyer representing the students, said, according to the New York Times.
According to the settlement agreement, no University of California schools can consider SAT or ACT scores in determining admission offers for students applying for entry between fall 2021 and spring 2025.
If a candidate submits exam results, the admissions committee will not review them.
The agreement comes a year after the Board of Regents overwhelmingly voted to postpone the standardised exam provision for all California freshman applicants until 2024.
At the time, the school stated that students could apply standardised test scores for fall 2021 and 2022, but only for reasons such as course selection, some scholarships, and qualifying for the statewide admissions guarantee.
But in August 2020, students sued, arguing that even voluntary submission of scores is discriminatory, notably for students with disabilities who were not able to take tests with necessary accommodations due to the COVID-19 pandemic — giving an unfair edge to able-bodied students.
An Alameda County Superior Court judge granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting use of SAT and ACT tests for admission, but the University of California appealed it.
Per this week’s settlement, if the university system chooses a new exam for admission in the future, it must consider access for disabled students in the way it’s designed and administered.
The university system will also pay more than $1.2 million to the students’ lawyers.
More than half the four-year colleges in the United States made ACT or SAT scores optional for fall 2021 admission, according to FairTest, which has pushed to end testing requirements.