CFER Foundation


Published January 22, 2021

“Putting the Cart Before the Horse”: UC’s Assault on Merit in a Proposal to Drop All Standardized Testing in Undergraduate Admissions




For Immediate Release

January 22, 2021

SAN DIEGO, CA -- January 22, 2021- Californians for Equal Rights (CFER) expresses its grave concerns regarding UC Board of Regents' consideration of a plan to forego all admissions test. This is a premeditated and precipitous attack on the merit-based principle that will greatly compromise UC's educational competitiveness and perpetuate the achievement gap. On January 21, 2021, the Regents of the University of California convened to hear a proposal by the Feasibility Study Steering Committee to deepen the school system's test-optional admissions process, by permanently suspending SAT/ACT and also making  the Smarter Balanced 11th grade assessment optional.

This new plan was hatched through a premeditated process to ambush academic selection. The Feasibility Study Steering Committee at UC was formed in May 2020 after the UC Board of Regents voted against UC's Academic Senate's recommendations to drop SAT and ACT for UC's admissions until 2024. After meeting four times between September and December, the committee has concluded that existing admissions tests are not viable because they "exacerbate inequity", and that a new UC admissions test is not feasible due to time constraints. Notably, these consequential policy recommendations coalesced around a primary purpose to advance equity in admissions. Academic achievement takes a back seat to the political test of equity.

CFER sent a formal letter to the UC Board of Regents on January 20, 2021, outlining three main reasons against the plan: 1. It's a politicized and misguided attempt to cover up true causes behind achievement and opportunity gaps; 2. It will exacerbate the issue of "grade inflation" and deprive underrepresented students of their fair opportunities to succeed through hard work; 3. It will compromise our national competitiveness and economic leadership in the world. High-quality and high-rigor admissions tests have been empirically tested as the right bar for college and career readinessa strong incentive for higher achievementthe most reliable indicator for college retention an graduation and a beneficial factor for low-income and underrepresented students.

On behalf of CFER, Executive Director Wenyuan Wu testified at the January 21st UC Regents meeting and noted: "How can we uphold merit and excellence if we are constantly diluting and even attacking our standards? To be bluntly honest, this is putting the cart before the horse." She continued with this observation: "(T)he primary purpose of higher education should not be to institute social engineering, but to prepare our students to be globally competitive. A more dangerous gap than our racial achievement gap exists between the average American student and the average students in many other industrial nations... We have to raise the American average and close the gap between our achievement and our potential, because our long-term economic viability depends on this."


Wenyuan Wu

(786) 393-8028

About Californians for Equal Rights Foundation (CFER):

We are a non-partisan and non-profit organization established following the defeat of Proposition 16 in 2020, with a mission to defend and raise public awareness on the cause of equal rights through public education, civic engagement and community outreach. In 1996, California became the first U.S. state to amend its constitution by passing Proposition 209 to ban racial discrimination and preferences. Prop. 209 requires that “the state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.” CFER is dedicated to educating the public on this important constitutional principle of equal treatment.


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