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Illustration of students at desks

A California appeals court on Thursday upheld a lower court's ruling barring the University of California from using the SAT or ACT in admitting students to any of its campuses this year.

The appeals court ruling largely addressed the legal standards for appeals and didn't focus on the merits of the decision. The appeals court found that the University of California had not shown that it would be irreparably harmed by the ruling.

But it left in place the lower court's ruling that effectively turned the UC system into a test-blind college system.

While the plaintiffs "decry the asserted, racially discriminatory and classist impact of the tests, their primary argument is that the current 'test optional' policy at most of the UC campuses denies … applicants with disabilities meaningful access to the additional admissions opportunity that test-submitters will enjoy, in large part because they will not have taken these tests and will not be able to take them with appropriate accommodations during the COVID-19 pandemic," wrote Judge Brad Seligman in the lower court decision.

“The SAT and ACT are history, and a sordid one at that,” said Mark Rosenbaum, director of Public Counsel’s Opportunity Under Law project. “Score a major victory for the students who took on the UC Regents and advanced the antiracism movement in a big way that will open up opportunities for higher education far too long denied them through these racist, discriminatory tests.”

A spokeswoman for the University of California said, "We respectfully disagree with the appellate court’s decision to lift the temporary stay on the preliminary injunction. We are reviewing our options."

She also noted that six UC campuses -- Berkeley, Irvine, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Riverside and Merced -- have announced that they will be test-free in admissions this year. The decision only affects the system's Davis, Los Angeles and San Diego campuses, which wanted the option of using the tests.

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