The University of California will no longer use SAT and ACT scores in admissions decisions. Critics say the tests put less wealthy students at a disadvantage.The University of California campus in Berkeley.Credit…Jeff Chiu/Associated PressMay 23, 2020, 5:00 a.m. ETSACRAMENTO — The University of California’s decision this past week to stop requiring the SAT and ACT tests for admissions renewed a debate that could be a prompt on a college application: Are the tests that were first deployed to diversify the Ivy League beyond rich prep schoolers a worthwhile yardstick, or are they, as one U.S. regent put it, “a proxy for privilege”?The California system has become the biggest and best-known American institution of higher education to step away from the use of the two major standardized tests, citing charges that they disadvantage students who are poor, black, and Hispanic.In the last decade or so, more than 1,230 colleges and universities have made the SAT and ACT optional for admission, according to FairTest, a group that has pushed to end testing requirements.But with a few well-known exceptions, such as the University of Chicago, most have been small institutions. The question now is whether the 300,000-student California system’s decision will spell the beginning of the end for college admissions testing.“The SAT has been remarkably resilient,” said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president at the American Council on Education. “But this will quite possibly lead other public universities to say, ‘Well if the U.C. can do without it, why do we still need it?’”Why are many still using the tests?Admissions officers typically look at several data points, not just test scores.But those who argue for keeping the tests say colleges need some sort of broad yardstick to compare students across disparate school districts and states. And at large colleges, getting rid of the tests would mean revising the whole mechanism for admissions — retraining admissions officers, redoing applications and rethinking an entire methodology.The tests provide important information beyond assessing achievement. Some studies have shown that SAT and ACT scores, combined with a student’s grade point average and other factors, can help predict a student’s success in college, especially in the crucial first year.At the University of California, a faculty task force found that standardized tests were a better predictor of college success than high school grades were. They also found that including the SAT and ACT in the formula for admissions helped some black, Hispanic and low-income students by offering an additional metric for those who might have been rejected based on grades.So why the move away from the tests?Critics of the tests cite decades of data indicating that they are inherently biased in favor of affluent, white and Asian-American students. During the debate among the California regents this week, numerous speakers used the word “racist” to describe the exams.Critics also say the tests are too easily gamed by students who can pay thousands of dollars for private coaching and test prep. Carol Christ, the chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, has long called for a move away from standardized testing for admissions. She cited the recent college admissions bribery scandal as a case in point, calling the episode “grotesque.”Plaintiffs in a lawsuit pending against the University of California say use of the tests build on existing disparities. According to the College Board, which administers the SAT, 55 percent of Asian-American test takers and 45 percent of white test takers scored a 1200 or higher on the SAT in 2019. For Hispanic and black students, those numbers were 12 percent and 9 percent.Proponents of a change say it is fairer to judge students by other measures, such as teacher recommendations. Some studies have suggested that high school grades better measure a student’s likelihood of graduation and cumulative performance in college.And some school officials say the tests are superfluous. California’s community college chancellor, Eloy Ortiz Oakley, who is also a University of California regent, reminded the board this week that the university already enrolls tens of thousands of transfer students who are not required to take any standardized admission tests.What will happen next?John A. Pérez, chairman of the system’s board of regents, said that college officials in other states had told him privately that they would likely follow suit if California moved to eliminate the test from its admissions requirements.
Updated May 20, 2020
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.
How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?
Over 38 million people have filed for unemployment since March. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.
How can I protect myself while flying?
If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)
Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?
There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.
Can I go to the park?
Yes, but make sure you keep six feet of distance between you and people who don’t live in your home. Even if you just hang out in a park, rather than go for a jog or a walk, getting some fresh air, and hopefully sunshine, is a good idea.
How do I take my temperature?
Taking one’s temperature to look for signs of fever is not as easy as it sounds, as “normal” temperature numbers can vary, but generally, keep an eye out for a temperature of 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If you don’t have a thermometer (they can be pricey these days), there are other ways to figure out if you have a fever, or are at risk of Covid-19 complications.
Should I wear a mask?
The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.
What should I do if I feel sick?
If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.
How do I get tested?
If you’re sick and you think you’ve been exposed to the new coronavirus, the C.D.C. recommends that you call your healthcare provider and explain your symptoms and fears. They will decide if you need to be tested. Keep in mind that there’s a chance — because of a lack of testing kits or because you’re asymptomatic, for instance — you won’t be able to get tested.
How can I help?
Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.
“I have talked to leaders at other public universities over the last couple of months,” Mr. Pérez said, “and would not be surprised if others looked at this question as well.”He declined to share specifics. But colleges and universities around the country are already getting a taste of what life without standardized admissions tests might look like. With testing dates disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, many institutions, including Harvard and Cornell, made the SAT and ACT optional for this year’s applicants.Both the College Board and ACT Inc. are suffering as a result. The SAT represents a substantial piece of the College Board’s more than $1 billion a year in revenue.One critic of the industry estimated that the College Board had lost $45 million in revenue to pandemic cancellations, though the group has declined to discuss its revenues. The testing organizations have announced that they will introduce an online testing option in the fall.The end of the SAT and ACT in California’s most prestigious public universities will not necessarily mean the end of admissions testing there. University officials said they were studying the feasibility of developing their own replacement test — with less baggage.