Future Cal Poly applicants may no longer be required to take the SAT or ACT for admission — depending on a vote from the California State University later this year.
The CSU Board of Trustees announced in a Jan. 26 meeting that they will vote in March on whether to discontinue the standardized testing requirement for all 23 campuses, including Cal Poly.
The CSU Admission Advisory Council, which is comprised of students, faculty and administrators, recommended that the Board of Trustees vote to discontinue the use of standardized exams, according to a document last revised on Jan. 5.
“In addition to consideration of hardships as a result of the pandemic and issues brought forth by social justice movements, the committee considered equity and fairness, academic preparation… and extensive research on the topic of standardized testing,” the council stated.
The council said the May 2020 murder of George Floyd and the subsequent social justice movements in solidarity with people of color played a role in informing the council’s recommendation.
During a meeting on Jan. 5, the Admission Advisory Council presented to the Board of Trustees its findings from additional research dating back to 1901. The council found that standardized tests “provide negligible additional value to the CSU admission process,” according to the meeting agenda.
The council also said it wanted to reduce any hurdles related to the costs of SAT and ACT testing and test preparation.
“The negative impact of stress on students, families and high schools as well as the consistent differential tests results between students in more affluent communities relative to less affluent communities cannot be ignored,” the council stated in the agenda.
If the board votes to get rid of the requirement, individual universities could consider students’ standardized test scores for placement in college courses, but “that would be the extent of their use,” CSU Public Affairs Senior Director Michael Uhlenkamp wrote in an email to Mustang News.
“As an institution committed to providing opportunities to all Californians, the CSU strives to ensure that there are equitable opportunities in our admissions processes,” Uhlemkamp wrote in the email.
Beginning in Fall 2023, the council said the CSU would replace the standardized test requirement with a quantitative formula that assesses four categories to determine applicants’ minimum admission eligibility. These categories include students’ high school GPA, completion of college preparatory courses beyond the minimum requirements, school context and attributes and activities outside of the classroom.
The news comes after the University of California system eliminated the standardized testing requirement out of concerns that these tests could privilege certain students, such as affluent students who, unlike students from marginalized backgrounds, can afford SAT/ACT tutoring services.
These concerns attracted national attention when students and non-profit organizations in Alameda County filed a lawsuit against the UC in August 2020. The plaintiffs said the use of standardized exam scores discriminated against people with disabilities who could not find accommodations for testing sites during the pandemic.
Like the UC system, the CSU suspended standardized testing for first-time undergraduate applicants for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Biological sciences freshman Julianne Santos said she did not need to take the SAT or ACT when applying for colleges due to the COVID-19 exception, but feels conflicted about the recommendation.
“It kind of hurts people who are trying to ‘up’ their application if they’re really good at standardized tests, but at the same time, it’s not a reliable way to judge applicants,” Santos said.
Even though business administration sophomore Andrew Shen said he took the SAT and ACT to apply for college, he supports the shift to test-optional applications.
“I think they need to look at other metrics,” Shen said. “When I applied [to Cal Poly], they didn’t require any essays, and I don’t think you can get a good assessment on a student just by looking at their stats.”