A few years ago, the University of California Board of Regents, incensed that Asians are pulling away from blacks and Latinos on SAT scores, demanded than an expert panel of professors nominated by the UC Academic Senate study whether the SAT actually complemented high school GPA in predicting whether students could survive the rigors of U. of California colleges.
The faculty experts reported back in early 2020 that SAT scores were even better than GPA at predicting college performance, especially for nonwhites. The Regents replied, “Nyaaaah Nyaaaah NyNyaaaah, we can’t hear you,” and banned the SAT, and pronounced that UC would within 5 years find a test, such as the one that California gives out to public high school students, that wouldn’t have racial gaps.
The Regents assigned the Academic Senate experts to show that California’s Smarter Balanced test was better than the SAT.
The Regents, being politicians rather than data nerds, said "Screw You," to the Academic Senate, "we are banning the SAT no matter what your find. Go tell us if we can use some low brow high school tests."
The experts just now reported back to the Regents that the Smarter Balanced high school test had worse validity than the SAT. The clueless L.A. Times spins it as another blow to the SAT:
The University of California should not use an alternative standardized test for admissions to replace the discarded SAT, faculty say.
BY TERESA WATANABE STAFF WRITER
OCT. 15, 2021 UPDATED 5:21 PM PT
In another blow to the future of standardized testing for University of California admissions, a faculty group has recommended nixing the use of an alternative assessment to replace the SAT in a new report to UC leaders.
The UC Board of Regents, in a move that reverberated nationally, unanimously voted last year to drop the use of the SAT and ACT for admissions decisions through 2024 because the tests exacerbated disparities based on race and income. Faculty were asked to examine whether an alternative test without those biases could be used beginning in 2025.
UC President Michael V. Drake asked the Academic Senate in April to explore whether the statewide assessment used for California public school students, known as Smarter Balanced, would be an appropriate replacement. Some educators were more open to using the state test over the SAT because it assesses how well 11th-graders learned California’s core curriculum.
But the Academic Senate committee’s conclusion: no go.
“The … assessment is not appropriate as an admissions test, required or optional, for the UC,” the report concluded. It said using the state test would “likely come at the same cost as the SAT,” mirroring the “inequities in opportunities to learn across California schools that are pronounced by race and socioeconomic status.”
The report did recommend, however, that the state test be explored as one of many measures used for placement in writing classes after students are enrolled at UC. And it suggested that UC work with Smarter Balanced officials and state educators to include more challenging test items in core subject areas and encourage all California high schools to use the assessment to help students evaluate their college preparedness.
In other words, despite all the dumbing down of the SAT from 1995 onward, it’s still the most valid predictor of UC performance available.
… UC’s decision to drop use of the SAT and ACT for admissions decisions — prompted by a lawsuit, the pandemic and skepticism about the test among many regents — was seen as a game-changer in the national debate over whether the tests discriminated against disadvantaged applicants and the extent to which they predict college success.
Dropping the test as an admission requirement was credited with boosting UC freshman applications to a record high of more than 200,000 for fall 2021.
In other words, getting into Berkeley or UCLA was more random this year than ever before.
UC admissions officers have said they were able to thoroughly evaluate the flood of applications without test scores, using 13 other factors in the system’s review process, such as a student’s high school grade-point average, the rigor of courses taken, special talents, essays and extracurricular activities.
Not according to the Academic Senator of the University of California.
Though using the state exam in admissions decisions could benefit some underrepresented students who test well but have lower grades, it would disproportionately favor Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and could reduce admission rates of Black, Latino and low-income applicants, the report found.
And that’s the bottom line.
At the same time, the assessment would add only “modest incremental value” in predicting UC first-year grades, the committee concluded.
“Modest incremental value” is pretty great when trying to predict the future, which, as I may have mentioned, is hard. As I reported from reading the Academic Senate’s report in 2020: “The SAT explains 21% of the variance in freshman grades at U of California campuses, compared to only 16% for high school grade point averages. … Combining high school GPA and SAT scores increases the variance explained to 26%.”
Back to the poor L.A. Times:
The state test, SAT and high school GPA all predict first-year grades at roughly the same level, although the SAT performed slightly better, the report found.
21/16th better or 31%. The SAT and HSGPA were 26/16th better, or 62.5% better. Whether 5/8ths better is “slightly better” is up to you to judge.
Using only high school GPA produced the most diverse pool of top UC applicants.
It’s almost as if Diverse high schools have easier grading standards.
In addition, the faculty committee concluded that using the state test for UC admission would probably lead to the development of a test prep industry that disadvantages those who can’t afford to pay for such lessons.
In other words, Asians would kick ass.