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December 23, 2019

CA Lawsuits Assert Standardized Tests Discriminate

They claim the SAT/ACT admissions requirement violates the state’s anti-discrimination statute.

What is one to do when the wholly bankrupt union model of public education has done nothing to bridge the achievement gap between black and white students — despite more than 50 years of promises to “reform” the system? In California, a group of students and education-advocacy organizations aim to eliminate “inconvenient” measurements of that reality. They are suing the University of California, claiming the admissions requirement that students take SAT or ACT standardized tests violates the state’s anti-discrimination statute.

Two separate suits have been filed. “Rather than fulfilling its vision as an ‘engine of opportunity for all Californians’ and creating a level playing field in which all students are evaluated based on individual merit, the UC requires all applicants to subject themselves to SAT and ACT tests that are demonstrably discriminatory against the State’s least privileged students, the very students who would most benefit from higher education,” states one.

“Defendants’ policy of requiring SAT and ACT scores in the UC admissions process, despite knowing for years of the discriminatory impacts of those tests, amounts to intentional discrimination by Defendants against Plaintiffs on the basis of race, color, ancestry, national origin, ethnic group identification, mental disability, physical disability, and/or medical condition,” states the other.

These suits follow through on a demand made to UC officials in October, when lawyers for Compton Unified and other would be plaintiffs threatened litigation if UC did not immediately end the testing requirement. In a letter to school officials they referred to SAT and ACT tests as “descendants of discriminatory IQ tests that pose unlawful barriers to underrepresented students” and further asserted that “SAT and ACT scores measure socioeconomic status and race — rather than ability or mastery of curriculum.”

It’s not the only lawsuit the UC system is facing. In November 2018, UCLA law professor Rick Sander and a non-profit group called the Asian-American Community Service Center filed a lawsuit for access to data that could demonstrate whether or not UC illegally discriminates against Asian Americans by considering race in their admissions process, even though California voters eliminated the practice in 1996.

Sander cited a 2014 admissions study by UCLA sociologist Robert Mare that revealed “African-Americans and Latinos are systematically advantaged,” Sander stated.

Such systemic advantage apparently arises from UC taking the approach that has so far worked for Harvard, insisting that while they do not take race into consideration, personal characteristics are part of the admissions equation.

At Harvard, those “personal characteristics” produced a reality whereby African-American, Native American, and Hispanic high-schoolers with mid-range SAT scores of approximately 1100 were sent a recruitment letter, while Asian men and women were required to score 1350 and 1380, respectively, to receive the same letter. Nonetheless, Federal District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs, an Obama appointee, found “no persuasive documentary evidence of any racial animus or conscious prejudice against Asian Americans.” At best, that ruling would suggest Asian students have far more personality “deficiencies” than other ethnicities.

That ruling is being appealed.

Officials with ACT and the College Board, which owns the SAT, pushed back against the latest lawsuit’s allegations. “The notion that the SAT is discriminatory is false,” College Board spokesman Zachary Goldberg said in statement. “Regrettably, the letter and the lawsuit contain a number of false assertions and is counterproductive to the fact-based, data-driven discussion that students, parents and educators deserve.”

Marten Roorda, ACT chief executive officer, released a statement asserting that standardized tests are the “only college readiness indicator to make achievement and merit comparable across schools, districts and states” and that it is “inappropriate to blame admissions testing for inequities in society.”

Who’s kidding whom? If admissions test couldn’t be blamed for admissions disparities, then the genuine factors that have corrupted America’s education system would have to be addressed. Factors such as grade inflation and the dumbing-down of tests that produced an average public-school graduation rate for 2019-2020 of approximately 84%, even as 40 to 60% of first-year college students require remedial courses in math, English, or both. Factors like the catastrophic extrapolations engendered by destruction of the nuclear family in black communities, where the out-of-wedlock birth rate is 77%.

And far more germane, it would require taking on the politically connected California Teachers Association (CTA) that has spent $4.3 million on lobbying in 2019 to undermine charter school growth in a state where only one in six black students are reading at grade level, fewer than one in five Latino students were doing grade-level math, and whopping two out of three students were non-proficient in both subjects.

Instead, testing must be eliminated for college admissions.

A couple of realities intrude. Since studies show that test scores are strongly influenced by factors such as family income, parents’ education, and race, it would seem that only radical egalitarianism — as in creating a society where everyone is equal to everyone else in terms of every factor imaginable — would allow for “fair” standardized tests. Otherwise, anything resembling merit automatically reeks of “privilege.” And while those who favor eliminating the tests insist the same studies show that grades are the strongest single predictor of college performance, other studies reveal the aforementioned grade inflation is rampant in public schools.

The real game afoot here? An effort to eliminate every objective measurement used to assess college-worthy students in favor of the so-called “holistic” approach to the admissions process. One that is nothing more than a smokescreen for the racial and ethnic bean-counting universities use to advance their most cherished agenda: diversity.

How cherished? UC will make every applicant for a faculty position write a diversity statement, explaining how they have promoted diversity in the past and how they will promote it going forward.

Would that diversity of thought be included in the mix. But as most Americans are aware, college faculties lean overwhelmingly leftist. Moreover, more and more colleges are opting for a test-optional approach to admissions ensuring arbitrary measurements of student “success” will supplant standardized measurements.

Yet one suspects there is more to this test-optional admissions process than diversity. College enrollment has declined for the last eight years, as fewer high-school graduates are willing to strap on hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and non-dischargeable student loans. Thus colleges need to enlarge their pool of would be “consumers,” wiling to endure the unpleasant realities of skyrocketing tuition costs, the millions of dollars colleges waste on bloated bureaucracies (read: diversity enforcers) and the fact that several of the degrees they offer are largely worthless in terms of real-world success.

At what point does the effort to eliminate meritocracy in favor of diversity produce disastrous results? In a better nation, one would like to think heart surgeons, airline pilots, and those who aspire to work in other professions that demand clear standards will remain exempt from the religious-like zealotry of quota-mongering. In this one, the zealots are demanding that anyone deemed insufficiently “privileged” will be exempted from objective assessment.

The inherent contradiction? How does one objectively assess insufficient privilege? Those familiar with progressive ideology know the answer: privilege, or lack thereof, will be defined by leftists — solely on their own terms.

What could be more privileged than that?

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