The University of California Board of
Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS) is at it again, attempting to
slowly erode the high academic standards required for admission to this most
prestigious network of public universities.
For some reason, BOARS is recommending to
the Board of Regents that the school "signal" to applicants to not take the new
SAT test for admission to the UC system. This comes less than two years after
the Board of Regents lowered the admission requirements for UC schools
by eliminating the use of the SAT II Subject Tests and just eight
years after using scarce university resources to help create the new SAT in the
The available evidence shows
a significant correlation between an applicant’s success on the SAT
and success in the university environment, and since this correlation is
recognized by BOARS, it is unclear why some wish to no longer use it as a
screening tool. If the desired effect was an effort to increase the
number of eligible applicants to the UC system, it is certainly
unnecessary. Applications are already at historic highs.
There is also nothing to suggest that the
SAT is inconsistent with the university’s admissions testing principles.
Indeed, BOARS acknowledges that the precise opposite is true; that the SAT is
well aligned with UC testing principles. Suggesting that fewer students
take the SAT will only decrease the information available to
admissions officers in evaluating applicants and inevitably erode the quality
The alternative to the SAT is the ACT,
another highly regarded admissions test which has been accepted by the UC for
many years. Why would BOARS wish to "signal to applicants" to take one
test rather than another and deny students and families the right to decide for
themselves which admissions test to take? As recently as 2006, there were
33,000 students admitted as freshmen to UC schools who took the SAT.
Another 9,529 took both the SAT and the ACT, and 270 took only the ACT.
The preference of students and families seems clear.
It would appear that BOARS
believes that over the last few years, there has been an evolution in the
relative usefulness of these two admissions tests. However, there is no
evidence to that effect and thus it is hard to accept that
conclusion. It would also be interesting for BOARS and the UC Board
of Regents to share with us how much taxpayer money was spent to help develop
the new SAT eight years ago and explain why that investment is no longer
Time and time again, BOARS has put forth
proposals that would lower academic standards and undermine the value of
a UC education. All the evidence shows that an
applicant’s performance on the SAT has a high correlation to university
performance and it is imperative that during these times of fiscal constraints
that UC not foolishly waste its limited resources on such
Using the SAT to identify applicants with
a high degree of probable success continues to be appropriate and prudent.
The UC Board of Regents should reject the BOARS recommendation because
abandoning the SAT as a tool for evaluating admissions would be a mistake that
will increase costs and diminish the quality of a
UC education. Don’t squander decades of academic excellence and
the SAT’s proven record of success by again changing admissions standards and
policies, removing student choice and sowing further confusion and anxiety in
the admissions process.