AERA Statement on Supreme Court Decision on Race in College Admissions
AERA Statement on Supreme Court Decision on Race in College Admissions

For Immediate Release:
June 29, 2023

Tony Pals,
(202) 238-3235

Marla Koenigsknecht,
(202) 238-3233

AERA Statement on Supreme Court Decision on Race in College Admissions

June 29, 2023

The following statement is from Felice J. Levine, executive director, and Tyrone C. Howard, president, of the American Educational Research Association.

Today the U.S. Supreme Court made it harder for higher education to achieve student equity and inclusivity, but avenues remain open and higher education must seize them. The decision is a low point that could impede equitable access to higher education; erode campus diversity; reinforce, rather than reduce, longstanding and pernicious patterns of bias in higher education; and hinder the development of future workers and leaders who can thrive in an increasingly multicultural society.

The Court did not expressly overrule prior rulings that allow race as a factor in admissions to achieve the benefits of educational diversity for all students. However, it invalidated the way institutions and prior Court decisions have defined the educational benefits of diversity as insufficiently measurable and without a necessary end point. More analysis is needed of the complex decision to determine how it translates into institutional policies and practices. While the Court’s decision will leave students and the country worse off, it should not extinguish scientific and higher education efforts to pursue educational equity and excellence for all students.

Sadly the Court’s decision fails to acknowledge the substantial body of scientific evidence that student body diversity improves educational outcomes. Study after study has found that alternatives to race-conscious admissions put into place by states do not have the same impact as race-conscious policies in achieving that crucial diversity. The constraints imposed by the Court are formidable; yet, the scientific community and higher education need to respond by redoubling their efforts and expanding their commitment to the hard work of creating equitable educational systems.   

Meanwhile, at a time when college opportunity is limited for underrepresented students of color and members of other marginalized groups, we urge all educational institutions to take all legal paths to ensure that students from all backgrounds get equal opportunities. We furthermore urge researchers across the country to work with colleges and universities to develop and implement admissions criteria and processes that are as inclusionary as possible for students of color and address systemic inequities.

In 2022, AERA and other major research associations submitted a Supreme Court amicus brief in support of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, calling on the court to rely on the substantial body of research and reaffirm the governmental interest in diversity. Joining AERA on the brief were the American Anthropological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Political Science Association, the American Sociological Association, the Association for the Study of Higher Education, and the Linguistic Society of America.  Visit the AERA website for research resources related to the case and race-conscious admission policies. 


About AERA

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the largest national interdisciplinary research association devoted to the scientific study of education and learning. Founded in 1916, AERA advances knowledge about education, encourages scholarly inquiry related to education, and promotes the use of research to improve education and serve the public good. Find AERA on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.