Bill To Remove Barriers To Advanced Degrees Heads To Governor’s Desk

June 21, 2011

AB 176 ensures all students are treated equally when seeking admission to post-secondary standardized exams

SACRAMENTO – Today, the Assembly voted to send Governor Jerry Brown Assembly Bill 176 authored by Assembly Member Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) to make higher education more accessible to all Californians.  The Assembly passed AB 176 with a 50-20 vote.

The proposed law will require test sponsors of post-secondary standardized exams like the GRE, MCAT, LSAT and GMAT to provide alternative methods for verifying a test subject’s identity when he or she is unable to provide the required identification.

“Governor Brown understands the need for an educated workforce. AB 176 makes higher education accessible to all Californians.  Students who are trying to better themselves ultimately help revitalize the economy and exponentially improve our communities. By breaking down barriers to higher education, we are ensuring an improved quality of life for all Californians,” said Lara.

Under California law, students applying for public colleges and universities who do not possess legal immigration status are eligible to receive in-state tuition if they graduate from a California high school and meet allof the requirements outlined in California Education Code § 68130.5.  This state law, popularly known as AB 540 (D-Firebaugh), was recently upheld by the California Supreme Court who denied hearing an appeal challenging the law’s validity.

However, many AB 540 students continue to face challenges when taking standardize exams required for graduate and professional level programs. These types of post-secondary standardized tests are required by colleges and universities for graduate school admission.  To register for these exams, a student is required to produce valid government issued identification.  Currently, many test sponsors lack a process to provide students with alternative forms of identification when they are unable to provide the required forms. As a result, students who do not possess the required forms of identification are at a disadvantage and may be precluded from taking post-secondary standardized exams, thus jeopardizing their admission into desired graduate programs.

AB 176 would provide these students with viable alternatives for identification that will clear a path for all students to achieve their educational goals.  Specifically, AB 176 will require test sponsors to provide alternative methods to verify a test subject’s identification. This bill will also allow students to contact test sponsors prior to their exam in order to identify a process for verifying their identification and will require test sponsors to clearly post on their websites information for students who are unable to provide the required identification.