FairTest Takes College Board to Task for Extra SAT

FairTest, the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, has gone on the record in support of a complaint made by a college admissions counselor to the College Board protesting its plan to administer an additional SAT exam to students who sign up for its $4,500 summer prep program. Only the students who enroll in the program, held on the Amherst College campus, will get an opportunity to take the SAT on August 3rd. Other students are ineligible to sit the exam on that date.

The plan for the new testing date was announced by the College Board at the same time it announced its National Society for the Gifted and Talented program scheduled to take place this summer. The program is sponsored by the company, and the additional exam date was touted as a benefit for enrollment. Students who take part in competing summer prep courses will not have access to the August exam and must wait until the next scheduled test in October.

When Elizabeth Stone, an independent counselor from San Mateo, California, received a copy of the College Board press release about the NSGT program, she immediately fired off a letter to the company expressing her anger at the move, and calling on the company to cancel the test or open it to all eligible students.

"Ms. Stone's letter to the College Board raises several important concerns about the equity of this special, elitist SAT administration," explained FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer. "She deserves a clear answer as do thousands of other potential test-takers and the admissions offices which still require standardized exam scores."

In her letter, Ms Stone said that opening up a special exam date only to kids from families who can afford the high NSGT tuition further privileges students who already outscore their low-income peers on standardized exams like the SATs. Furthermore, limiting the number of students allowed to sit the test on August 3rd to only those who enroll in the program directly offered by the College Board, and not to those enrolled in test prep programs offered by other companies, unfairly leverages CB's near-monopoly on standardized testing.

— Will students who take the August test gain a leg up in the admissions process, particularly at colleges with Early Decision or Restrictive Early Action deadlines in early November?

— Will not this special August test date, offered to an elite group of students, be perceived by the public as giving these students an unfair advantage? If there is no special value in the August test date, than why has College Board created this unique partnership with NSGT?

— Have the nation's colleges committed to accepting these test scores? Will they be allowed to void them if they deem this August test date does not affirm the fairness of their college admissions policies?

So far, the College Board hasn't issued a response to the complaint.

06 3, 2012
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