The lawsuit against the University of California alleges that it discriminates against students by requiring SAT or ACT test scores (“Students, Community Groups Sue University of California to Drop SAT, ACT,” The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 11). The plaintiffs say the tests act as a proxy for wealth, race and privilege.
I have no brief for either test, but I base my opinion on the way the tests are constructed, rather than on their outcomes. Both tests appeal to colleges and universities because they allow students to be ranked against each other. If the tests were loaded up with items that measured only the most important material taught effectively by teachers, scores would likely be bunched together, making comparisons extremely difficult.
To avoid that probability, test makers include items that measure what students bring to class, instead of what they learn in class. They do so because they’ve found it produces score spread. That is not fair, but it is not illegal. Yet plaintiffs charge that disparate impact is illegal. I maintain that they won’t be happy unless all students post equal scores.
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