COVID-19

Drop your pencils. UC system ordered to eliminate SAT, ACT immediately.

Jasmine Garsd Sep 2, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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SAT test prep books at a bookstore in New York. The test-prep industry might not survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Mario Tama/Getty Images
COVID-19

Drop your pencils. UC system ordered to eliminate SAT, ACT immediately.

Jasmine Garsd Sep 2, 2020
SAT test prep books at a bookstore in New York. The test-prep industry might not survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Mario Tama/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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Last year, the UC system said standardized tests would be optional in the future. Mounting pressure around alleged cultural bias and the Varsity Blues bribery scandal led to that decision.

This week, a judge has ruled that the University of California cannot use the ACT or SAT standardized tests for admissions purposes because limited access to the tests now puts students with disabilities at a disadvantage. With that ruling, the University of California will have to drop the SAT and ACT requirement immediately. Many schools nationwide have already decided to ditch the tests.

“Truly, high school GPA is far and away the best predictor,” said Brian Troyer, Marquette University’s Dean of Undergraduate Admissions. His school went test free after finding the scores didn’t really say much about how well students would do in college.

Now COVID-19 is accelerating the move towards making tests optional. Many schools have at least temporarily suspended the use of the tests.

“We’re standing at a crossroads,” said David Hawkins, a spokesperson for the National Association for College Admission Counseling. “This COVID-19 disruption has short circuited the extensive discussions that many colleges have about going test optional.”

For years, advocates have argued that eliminating the standardized tests would help level the playing field for students who can’t afford hundreds of dollars for test prep tutoring. 

David Gruenbaum coaches the college bound. He’s not too worried about his business — which is part of the billion dollar test-prep industry — taking a hit.

“What can they use to make decisions?” he said of admissions counselors. “Junior year — last year — was useless, the grades were completely worthless.”

So far, COVID has derailed students for two semesters, and standardized testing may not survive.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Are people still waiting for unemployment payments?

Yes. There is no way to know exactly how many people have been waiting for months and are still not getting unemployment, because states do not have a good system in place for tracking that kind of data, according to Andrew Stettner of The Century Foundation. But by his own calculations, only about 60% of people who have applied for benefits are currently receiving them. That means there are millions still waiting. Read more here on what they are doing about it.

Are we going to see another wave of grocery store shortages?

Well, public health officials are warning that we could see a second wave of the virus before the end of the year. And this time retailers want to be prepared if there’s high demand for certain products. But they can’t rely totally on predictive modeling. People’s shopping habits have ebbed and flowed depending on the state of COVID-19 cases or lockdowns. So, grocers are going to have to trust their guts.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out Tuesday from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

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