University of Cowards

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Today’s Inside Higher Ed article brought up a myriad of thoughts. In summation, after a two year study, The University of California’s academic senate has declined to endorse test-optional admissions policies for the system.

First, let me say that this is wildly disappointing in it own right. There is too much research to cite with regards to the body of evidence supporting the elimination of standardized tests. But, if you’re looking for a comprehensive read on the matter, check Jon Boeckenstedt’s amazing post here. Grab your popcorn before reading that one.

Second, I have to ask the question: Why is the academic senate deciding this matter? Should this not be left up to the ridiculously competent enrollment professionals working at the UCs? I am all for the shared governance model in higher education. It works wonders with regards to check and balances (unlike the US government, apparently). However, discounting the years and expertise of those in the professionalized enrollment arena is both insulting and demoralizing. Here is a list of the members of the Standardized Testing Task Force. Six of the twenty members have research backgrounds in education, and none are practicing enrollment managers (from what I can gather).

Third, one of the recommendations from the task force was the development of new tests, specific to the UC system. Because we all know that more tests is akin to more success. And students today aren’t overtested. And this one is sure to be free of bias. And I wonder who will develop that test for them? And it’ll only take nine years to implement. And…

Last, but certainly not least, I want to emphasize the importance of this matter for the national landscape of testing. The UC system is both prestigious and large. It sets a tone for the rest of America when it comes to higher education. There is certainly too much attention paid to a small number of “elite” schools, but the elimination of standardized tests by the UC system would serve as a beacon for other systems to follow suit. Ultimately, this decision reeks of faulty research at best, and foul play at worst. That, and a group of people too weak and unwilling to stand up to the billion dollar testing industry.

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