UC Faculty Committee Proposes Dropping SAT I
BERKELEY, Calif.The push is on to drop the SAT I as a University of California admissions requirement and a key faculty committee has proposed developing new entry exams tailored to state curriculum. The recommendation is tentative and it will be months before it could come up for a vote before the UC Board of Regents, which has final say. But as the largest user of the SAT, UC’s decision has national implications. “What we are trying to do is establish a testing array that is not only curriculum-related, but that helps students to assess their strengths and weaknesses,” says Dr. Dorothy Perry, a UC San Francisco professor and chair of the faculty committee. The impetus for scrapping the SAT I comes from UC President Richard C. Atkinson, who a year ago asked faculty to consider trying something else. Atkinson said overemphasis on the SAT I, the two-part verbal and math test taken by about 2 million high school students nationally each year, is distorting educational priorities. He also noted the test has been criticized as unfair to some groups (see Black Issues March 15, 2001).Last month, a faculty committee on admissions requirements responded to Atkinson’s suggestion with a discussion paper that was presented to the systemwide Academic Council. In their paper, committee members laid out a series of proposed new testing standards and said no current test, including the SAT I, meets those requirements. The committee recommended coming up with a new test based on what is taught in California schools. The committee said the two major testing agencies, the makers of the SAT and its chief competitor, the ACT, are interested in working with UC on new entrance exams. UC, with about 170,000 students, is the largest user of the SAT. It also accepts the ACT, although most students take the SAT. Although they’re willing to work with UC, rivals SAT and ACT have no plans to work with each other. ACT Inc. President Richard Ferguson says the recommended standards are “what we have been doing for the last 40-plus years.” He believes the ACT Assessment could qualify with the simple addition of a writing sample requirement. Chiara Coletti, vice president for public affairs for the College Board, the nonprofit organization that owns the SAT, says the board is willing to work with UC on drafting a new test. However, she disagrees that the SAT I is flawed. “We have enormous faith in it and so do the vast majority of our members,” she says. Faculty members are expected to take several months to review the proposal. If they agree, the issue will go before the UC Board of Regents, possibly this summer.
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