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OHS Observer

Stanford Online High School's student run news site

OHS Observer

Stanford Online High School's student run news site

OHS Observer

UCs Put Racial Quotas Above Fair Admissions

Members of the University of California Rally Committee carry the California banner and wave two of the Cal flags near the Campanile in Berkeley, CA.
Wikimedia Commons
Members of the University of California Rally Committee carry the California banner and wave two of the Cal flags near the Campanile in Berkeley, CA.

On May 21, 2020, the University of California’s Board of Regents unanimously suspended the usage of all standardized tests in their college admissions process through the 2024 application season. For 2025 and on, they vowed to create a new test that “adds value to the admissions decision process and improves educational quality and equity in California.” Because this sentence is buzzword heaven to those more interested in virtue signaling than fair admissions, the Board implemented a cop-out: a fall 2025 deadline for this new test to meet “specified criteria” in order to be ready for use.


Not even two years went by before they decided to scrap their plans for a new test and go test-blind permanently. An internal report had suggested that implementing the new test would introduce the same problems the Board had sought to avoid by removing the SAT and ACT. Even if they decided to shrug off this criticism and keep going forward, reports said the test creation process would take up to nine years. If this were the case, it begs the question of why the Board gave themselves only a few years; this decision led the outcome to be decided as soon as the deadline was enacted.


The first step in analyzing this decision is to look at the reasoning behind it. As is to be expected behind a political statement like this, there isn’t much of anything substantial beyond the vague corporate language that has become a mainstay of any institution prioritizing political correctness. The Board claimed that the decision allows them to “address concerns about equitable treatment for all students,” an “incredible step in the right direction toward aligning our admissions policy with the broad-based values of the University,” according to UC Board of Regents Chair John A. Pérez.


What these values are is up to anyone’s guess, as are the apparent concerns about equitable treatment. What the Board really means by “values” is that there now is even less objectivity in what is an already subjective process, allowing them to manipulate admissions to fit racial quotas. Although they didn’t know it at the time, this decision became even more integral to fulfilling that goal after the recent Supreme Court ruling struck down clear racial preferences in admissions.


Eliminating standardized tests allows the Board to hide admissions decisions behind a curtain of subjective criteria, and the results have already been significant. The 2021 class was the most diverse ever, with 43% of students being from “underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.” In 2014, Whites accounted for 25% of admitted students, compared to only 19% in 2022. That substantial reduction was certainly no accident.


The general argument against SATs and ACTs is that they are racially biased and give an advantage to students whose parents can afford expensive tutors and prep programs. After all, the 2022 average SAT score for Asian students was 1229, significantly higher than White at 1098 and Black at 926, and it is certainly true that on average students with test prep will perform better than those thrown into it without prior preparation.


That being said, this argument completely ignores the fact that these biases can be controlled for. Taking into account racial and economic factors, outliers (high performance students) can be identified at each racial and economic level. This was one of the findings of a 225-page February 2020 faculty report administered by UC themselves, which concluded that standardized tests do indeed help identify promising underprivileged students.


In the pursuit of equal opportunity, the UCs are actually hurting gifted lower income students by removing a clear way to differentiate themselves from the pack. Grades and transcripts only tell so much of the story, especially in poorer areas where higher level classes might not be offered. The standardized tests, on the other hand, are a way to level the playing field and give these students a chance to demonstrate their ability compared to a larger group of peers around them beyond just one particular school.


Now, without them, these students aren’t given the chance to show their dedication to pursuing a further education by performing well in standardized tests. They are instead thrown into a mixer with peers that have similar transcripts and report cards, and the arbitrary admissions blender kicks into action. This is the result of removing tests: kids lose a way to differentiate themselves and are alternatively subject to a random process with no clear roadmap to success.


Additionally, the February report found that test scores were predictive of college success, disproving critics who claim they are meaningless in the real world. Of course, tests aren’t perfect descriptors of a student’s academic prowess and are subject to many biases and irregularities. But admissions teams know this, which is why they are weighted holistically. After all, the report concluded by suggesting that the UC  should “not …make standardized tests optional for applicants at this time.” Forget test-blind; the Board’s own researchers thought test-optional was too far.


Only a month after this report was released, the Covid pandemic hit, and the racial quota-seeking admissions directors seized their opportunity. They made the applications test-optional both in 2020 and 2021; this made sense due to the unpredictability of the fast-changing pandemic situation. However, the George Floyd-sparked Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020 heightened racial tensions and exponentially increased the pressure on establishments across the country to fill racial quotas, especially universities.


Although the social pressure of filling racial quotas had existed for a while before 2020, the summer’s exacerbation of this pressure certainly played a large part in the UC’s sudden inability to follow through on their own promise of making a new test. This, however, was their goal all along: they were now “forced” to eliminate all tests indefinitely. Let’s hope it’s not too late to change course and get back to being the leader that California once was.


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    Luis PrataOct 24, 2023 at 11:38 am

    Great article! Be the wave of change!