In July 2018, President Napolitano wrote to 2017-18 Academic Senate Chair Shane White asking the Academic Senate to examine the current use of standardized testing for admission to the University of California (UC or the University); review the testing principles developed in 2002′ by the Board of
Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS) and revised by BOARS in 20102; and determine whether any changes in policies on use of test scores are needed.
In early 2019, 2018-19 Senate Chair Robert May empaneled an eighteen-member Standardized Testing Task Force (STTF) to consider whether the University and its students are best served by UC’s current testing practices, a modification of current practices, another testing approach, or the elimination of testing. Chair May asked the STTF to develop a set of actionable recommendations to the Academic
Council; to approach its work analytically, without prejudice or presupposition; and to consult with experts from a broad range of perspectives. The STTF met 12 times between February 2019 and January 2020, and empaneled a six-member subcommittee to draft specific recommendations.
Chair May’s charge to the STTF identified the followmg questions:
How well do UC’s current stancfardized testing practices assess entering high school students for UC readiness?
How well do UC current standardized testing practices predict student success in the context of its comprehensive review process?
Do standardized testing assessments fairly promote diversity and opportunity for students applying to UC?
Does UC ‘s use of standardized tests increase or contract the eligibility pool compared to two other possibilities: I) cfe-weighting standardized tests; or 2) eliminating the testing requirement?
Should UC testing practices be improved, changed, or eliminated?
By way of background, the University admits students through a two-stage process: first, a determination of eligibility for the University overall, then selection by a specific campus using comprehensive review. Test scores are used to establish eligibility for some (but not all) students and are also used in admissions decisions. Some campuses also use test scores for purposes other than admissions, such as awarding of scholarships, placement in classes, identification of students who might benefit from extra support, and admissions to honors programs. Standardized test scores tend to exhibit differences along lines of race and class, with students who belong to many of the demographic groups historically excluded from educational (and other) opportunities on average receiving lower scores.
How well do UC ‘s current standardized testing practices assess entering high school students for UC readiness? How well do UC current standardized testing practices predict student success in the context of its comprehensive review process?
The STTF found that standardized test scores aid in predicting important aspects of student success, including undergraduate grade point average (UGPA), retention, and completion. At UC, test scores are currently better predictors of first-year GPA than high school grade point average (HSGPA), and about as good at predicting first-year retention, UGPA, and graduation.3 For students within any given (HSGPA) band, higher standardized test scores correlate with a higher freshman UGPA, a higher graduation UGPA,