If Harvard Cared About Equality, It Would Abolish Legacy Admissions, Not ACT and SAT Requirements

Harvard University decided to continue its pandemic policy, making SAT and ACT scores available to applicants up to 2026. That means that standardized tests scores won’t be used in admissions decisions for many years, if any, to follow.

Harvard cited the Pandemic as the main reason, but Harvard’s push to end the ACT/SAT for college admissions was based on the misguided notion that the tests were unfair to poor teenagers. For example, the University of California has decided to discontinue requiring these exams because they were perceived as unfairly favoring Hispanic and black applicants. You can also see EdSource notes, this was part of a settlement with anti-test activists:

Students, community activists and Compton Unified Schools District filed a suit in 2019. The settlement is the final result of that lawsuit. Criticians claim that the standardized exams are unfairly biased towards students of low income, students with disabilities, Black students and Latinos.

This historic agreement “marks the end of a sad chapter in the University of California’s history.” “Despite indisputable evidence to the contrary, the stubbornness of Regents regarding the SAT and ACT usage despite the fact that these tests only measured family wealth has cost hundreds of thousands talented students of color a fair chance to matriculate into their state’s higher education system,” Mark Rosenbaum, an attorney representing students in this case said.

Contra Rosenbaum: The evidence Is It is highly debated. As Freddie de Boer, author of Smart Cult, has argued convincingly that a mixture of grade point averages and SAT/ACT score is highly predictive for college success. But it is not true that prioritizing test results punishes racial groups More There are no other admission criteria. The opposite is true. Schools reward those with high-quality connections and wealth more heavily if they rely more on other criteria, such as legacy status and extracurricular activities. An impoverished Latino teenager who has a high SAT score will have a greater chance of success in a school that values his academic achievements than a system which cares if his parents pay clarinet lessons or securing him a place on the water polo team.

De Boer writes, “There’s no reason to believe getting rid of SATs at elite colleges will increase what people mean by diversity’ and all reason to believe college will continue to play these systems.”

Harvard would be able to give a boost to alumni who were the descendants of former graduates if they truly cared about fairness to all. From 2014 to 2019, the general admittance race for Harvard applicants was six percent—but the admit rate for legacies was 33 percent, according to Harvard Crimson.

It is important that the most distinguished educational institution in the nation has the highest quality students. Standardized testing are better than any other metric.