Judge orders University of California system to suspend use of ACT, SAT in admissions process

Students walk on the campus of University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in Los Angeles, California on March 11, 2020. - Starting this week many southern California universities including UCLA will suspend in-person classes due to coronavirus co

The University of California's nine undergraduate campuses must suspend the use of the SAT and ACT in the admissions process, a state judge ruled, in a victory for students with disabilities who argued that the coronavirus pandemic has made it impossible for them to take standardized tests.

The University of California system said that it disagrees with the decision and is evaluating whether further legal actions are appropriate now.

“UC respectfully disagrees with the court’s ruling,” a spokesperson for the University of California said in a statement. “An injunction may interfere with the University’s efforts to implement appropriate and comprehensive admissions policies and with its ability to attract and enroll students of diverse backgrounds and experiences.”

The University of California Board of Regents voted unanimously in May to make the standardized test requirement optional for all freshman applicants until 2024. In the meantime, the system is working to “create a new test that better aligns with the content the University expects students to have mastered for college readiness.”

In December of last year, a coalition of students and nonprofits sued the University of California, seeking an outright ban on the use of standardized tests. Then in July, they filed a motion in the lawsuit arguing that the coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately impacted students with disabilities by making it impossible for them to find appropriate testing locations.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman agreed with the plaintiffs, writing that “the barriers faced by students with disabilities are indisputably significantly greater than those faced by non-disabled students.”

“Plaintiffs have shown that they are denied meaningful access to the additional ‘benefit, aid or service’ that the test option affords. Unlike their non-disabled peers, they do not have the option to submit test scores; even if they did, their chances of obtaining necessary test accommodations are virtually non-existent,” Seligman wrote in his ruling.

Laura Kazan, the executive director of College Seekers, one of the groups that is a plaintiff in the case, praised the judge’s decision this week as a step in the right direction.

“I am extremely grateful for this ruling. The Sat and ACT are barriers for students who have disabilities because they encounter difficulties obtaining accommodations and testing,” Kazan told Fox News. “These students spoke out and were finally heard.”

The University of California system is massive, with more than 280,000 students spread out over some of the most prestigious universities in the world, including the University of California - Los Angeles and the University of California - Berkeley.

The judge’s temporary injunction will last until the lawsuit is over. The next court date in the case is set for Sept. 29.