The College Board’s Elitist Roots

The College Board recently rolled out its ‘Adversity score’ system which is a score being sent to colleges without the consent of the test taker and of which is made up of 15 metrics chosen by The College Board from sources they won’t disclose.

This level of elitist ‘we know what’s best for you’ activity from The College Board shouldn’t surprise anyone given the organization’s history is rooted in elitism.

The College Board, currently headquartered in New York City, is a private non-profit. Its official name is actually the “College Entrance Examination Board.

The College Board charges for assessments that include the SAT, the pSAT. The College Board also charges for services to students, parents, colleges, and universities for college planning tools and resources, recruitment and admissions, financial aid, and student retention.

The College Board, in addition to testing and related revenue, has received grants from various foundations, such as evergreen education meddlers, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We’ll get to the money a bit later on.

David Coleman, one of the “unqualified people” behind the Common Core State Standards, has been the president of College Board since October 2012. Before Coleman, Gaston Caperton, former Governor of West Virginia, had been president since 1999.

A Timeline of an Elitist Monopoly

College presidents from 12 universities founded the “College Entrance Examination Board” which in modern times would come to be known as The College Board.

The test was created to be a ‘learning aptitude test’ so that applicants to colleges would be merit-based. Some education historians and critics have implied that lurking behind the original board’s desire for such a merit-based test was a desire for a means of being able screening out ‘undesirables’.

The formation of this board took place at Columbia University and the original member institutions were a collection of the most elite universities of the time:

  • Barnard College
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • Collegiate Institute, New York
  • Colgate University
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Mixed High School, New York
  • Newark Academy
  • New York University
  • Princeton University
  • Rutgers University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Union College
  • Vassar College
  • Women’s College of Baltimore (now Goucher College)

A standardized admissions exam referred to as the “College Boards” is given for the first time. If you paid a fee to the Board, they’d tell you in advance what subjects would be on the test, which was 5-days long and made up of essay questions on subjects such as literature, languages, biology, chemistry, and math such as physics.

IQ Test proponent Robert Yerkes gets the U.S. Army to use the IQ test; it is the first time the test has been administered on a mass audience. His assistant, Carl Brigham, is a psychologist from one of the founding College Board schools – Princeton University.

The U.S. Army’s use and experimentation with the IQ test during World War I lead to Brigham and The College Board developing the first SAT. The original SAT test had nine categories broken down into two sub-categories:

  • Math: Arithmetical Problems and Number Series.
  • Verbal: Definitions, Classification, Artificial Language, Antonyms, Analogies, Logical Inference, and Paragraph Reading.

The SAT is given to students for the first time and its purpose was to measure an aptitude for learning rather than testing the knowledge the student already had.

Ivy League schools face criticisms they are elitist and are blocking applicants from outside the usual channels of admittance. Harvard President James Bryant Conant tells assistant dean at Harvard, Henry Chauncey, that he is creating a new scholarship for ‘academically gifted’ boys who did not come through the usual elite families, channels or boarding schools.

Assistant Dean Chauncey convinces The College Board to let Harvard use the SAT as an exam exclusively for vetting the ‘special scholarship’ applicants.

The SAT replaces all previous College Boards admissions exams.

Assistant Dean Chauncey is contracted by the Army and Navy to give the SAT to over 300,000 people nationwide on one day only. At the time, this is the largest group ever to sit for the exam at one time.

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) is created and the SAT is now seen as the standard college admissions exam.

SAT scores drop sharply in the mid-1960s.  The drops continue into the early 1980s.
The average verbal score dropped by around 50 points and the average math score fell by roughly 30 points. Participation during this time also wanes slightly.

The College Board decides to ‘recenter’ the SAT beginning in April 1995. The SAT’s score scale was ‘recentered’ to bring the average math/verbal scores closer to 500.

The ‘recentering’ move is followed by accusations that The College Board is manipulating scores to save face. The reality was that the scores were continuing to decline not just in the U.S but on an international level too. Similar accusations regarding scoring and the actual test questions would pop up numerous times thereafter and into the present day.

In comparison, the ACT and NAEP scores have remained higher and more stable, suggesting that the SAT is a flawed exam.

An MIT study shows how the SAT scores are manipulated in the optional essay portion. The study reveals that the longer the essay is, the higher the score it receives despite factual inaccuracies, grammar issues, and other problems.

The MIT study author said about the preparation for the essay exam that “you’re getting teachers to train students to be bad writers.”

During that same year, the National Council of Teachers of English also slammed the written portion as rewarding long, formulaic essays that had low accuracy or were often void of revision skills.

The College Board ignores the essay problems and does not alter its processes.

Reporting errors plague the SAT but the problem is covered up for months following the exam periods. Also in 2005, the test questions that featured analogies were eliminated and a 2400 point scoring system was implemented with the essay portion now being required instead of optional.

David Coleman takes over as President of The College Board as the former President, Gaston Caperton, exits amid allegations that The College Board is corrupt and that their tests and Advanced Placement course materials are biased both politically and ideologically.

During 2012, Americans for Educational Testing Reform (AETR) accuses The College Board of violating its non-profit status, pointing to the excessive profits of the organization and extremely high executive salaries.  And AETR was right.

The College Board took in over $751 million dollars in 2011. That year, CEO Gaston Caperton was earning over $1.3 million and the COO Jeffrey Singer made over $550,000.

Every single College Board executive was making over $199,000 a year, with most making well over $300,000 a year.

AETR also claims that the College Board acts unethically by selling test preparation materials, influencing college admission through direct lobbying of government officials and lawmakers, and violating the rights of test-takers.

Photo ID was made a requirement when cheating scams were exposed in New York and Long Island. The scam involved students sending in someone to take the test for them.

In addition to attacks by AETR, The College Board was facing a drop in the number of test takers. This was in part due to a number of colleges no longer requiring the SAT and to the other ‘standard’ test out there – the ACT. As a result, The College Board began a public and private war, including legal means, against the ACT in an attempt to discredit their tests.

On March 5, 2014, David Coleman and The College Board announced the SAT will be “redesigned.” The ‘redesign’ verbiage was an attempt to mask the fact that the test was being aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

The ‘redesigned’ SAT aligned to the Common Core State Standards is used for the first time. The scoring system is also returned to a 1600 total possible score.

During 2016, The College Board begins partnering with Khan Academy for SAT test prep even though The College Board has said in the past the SAT is ‘unpreppable’.

Non-profits are required to file various paperwork with the IRS. For 2017, The College Board files a sanitized audit report form that leaves out the astronomical salaries of the executive board.

The 990 form filed, however, reveals that The College Board is still a financial juggernaut, bringing in gross receipts of over $1.3 billion.

David Coleman’s total salary is now beyond that of his predecessor, coming in at $1,566,667 ($1,309,707 + $256,960 in additional compensation). The COO, Jeffrey Singer makes $810,601, which is a healthy increase from his 2010-11 salary of around $550,000.

Of the seventeen paid executives, no one makes less than $264,000 and the total compensation for all employees totals $9,898,858.

The College Board is caught selling student data and charging $0.45 per name for access to student information.  One group who was sold student data was JAMRS, a military recruitment program run by the United States Department of Defense.

College Board and ACT are both been sued for use/misuse of student information. Angry parents and students allege that the SAT is not being transparent that test taker data is being sold to third parties or that the disclosure of some of their data is optional.

During the Spring and Summer of 2018, The College Board drops some articles on its website and at Politico about the upcoming launch of the “Environmental Context Dashboard” which will generate “Adversity Scores” to be sent to colleges with each test-takers SAT scores.

The August 25, 2018, SAT exam given in the US is discovered to be a recycled October 2017 international SAT test given in China. A PDF file of that test was leaked on the internet.

Criticisms of the AP Tests and its curriculum return. Several groups vet the AP History curriculum and find anti-American themes and promotion of a negative image of the United States and its founders.

The SAT,  Advanced Placement tests/curriculum, and the Adversity Score

The SAT, which is often called either the Scholastic Aptitude Test or the Scholastic Assessment Test. It is one of several tests created by The College Board.

The main test (verbal and math) is three hours long with an additional 50 minutes for the essay portion. Math and Verbal are each worth 800 points for a possible total of 1600 or a perfect score.

Costs over the last three school years:

  • 2017-19: $45; SAT with Essay costs $57.00.
  • 2018-19: $47.50; SAT with Essay costs $64.50.
  • 2019-20: $49.50; SAT with Essay costs $64.50.

There are also other SAT Subject tests: mathematics, science, and history.

The PSAT/NMSQT is a practice test for the SAT that costs $16. It also is used as a “qualifying test” for the National Merit Scholarship Corporation’s scholarship programs.

The College Board also offers:

  • Advanced Placement courses and Tests ($94 or more).
  • The College Level Examination Program or CLEP.
  • Accuplacer (Online placement test in writing and math to help schools put kids in the right class levels).
  • Springboard Pre-Advanced Placement program (aimed at 6-12 grade students who want to go into AP classes).

As stated earlier in this article, the SAT was created to be a ‘learning aptitude test’ so that applicants to colleges would be merit-based.

Some groups like hold the theory that some schools have used the SAT to justify denying admission to minorities based on that minorities allegedly having a lower IQ. Others theorize that assumption of IQ level is wrong and that lower minority scores can be explained by “cultural biases of the test itself.” In other words, merit-based testing systems testing for either knowledge and/or learning aptitude are ‘racist’.

The recent addition of The College Board’s “adversity score” is the exact opposite of the intended merit-based purpose of the SAT.

This score will mitigate test scores with 15 metrics taken from sources that The College Board has not or will not reveal. A new SAT score of ‘privilege or adversity’ will be generated for each student and sent to the schools the student is applying to. It also appears that the metrics produced by such data can and/or might be shared with all of the schools who are participating in the program.

Students cannot opt out of The College Board sending this ‘adversity score’ to colleges, they cannot see the information, nor can they challenge it.  This is, without question, a violation of the test taker’s rights and an invasion of their privacy and that of their parents and family.

The fees for 2019-20 are $49.50 for just the SAT and $64.50 for the SAT with the essay component. The ACT, which many schools accept instead of or in place of the SAT, has comparable costs.  Parents and students can protect their privacy and maintain their academic integrity by choosing to take the ACT instead.

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips:
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