The College Board. That sounds pretty official. They administer SAT exams and AP exams. They are not-for-profit. They are here to help, right? Hmm…
I already wrote a blog post a year ago about high stakes testing and AP classes where I question whether or not we can do better. Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal printed the following letter from a high school student who lets you know what he thinks about the College Board and their not-for-profit model:
Those SATs and APs Were Hard—To Afford
The College Board should behave more like the nonprofit it claims to be.By BENJAMIN TONELLIJan. 26, 2014 5:22 p.m. ET
With college-admission deadlines quickly approaching, my debt to the College Board keeps growing. Two SAT tests, five subject tests and six Advanced Placement (AP) tests later, I am ready to report my scores through the College Board website to the 10 colleges to which I am applying. On top of the total $102 I paid to take the SAT, $114 for the subject tests, and $534 for the AP tests, the College Board now demands $11.25 for each electronic submission of the test scores to the schools on my list.
It seems odd that the College Board—a nonprofit whose CEO, David Coleman, was pulling in $750,000 as of 2012—cannot send a few numbers over the Internet for just a dollar or two, or maybe even free. Instead, I am shoveling out another $100-plus just for electronic submissions, another contribution to the swelling pockets of the College Board (annual revenue in 2011-2012: more than $750 million).
With almost complete control over the business of pre-college standardized testing, the College Board squeezes every penny it can from high-school students—or their parents. The company charges at every turn while attempting to “connect students to college success,” loading on additional fees for every missed deadline and “rush” delivery of electronically sent scores, scores that apparently otherwise take weeks to navigate the labyrinth that is the World Wide Web.
The College Board should behave more like the nonprofit it claims to be. Lowering the cost of the SAT would encourage more students whose parents make modest incomes to retake the test and compete against students from higher income households who often take the test upward of four times, aiming for higher scores. (I took the test twice.)
Allowing colleges to review prospective students’ test scores online through the Common Application would be a common-sense way of easing the financial burden on students. Reducing the price of AP tests to encourage more high-school students to take the exams that grant college credit could mean lower tuition and less student debt. What better way to stay true to the College Board’s belief in “investing in the future”?
I hope that this piece “demonstrates outstanding critical thinking, using clearly appropriate examples, reasons and other evidence to support its position,” as the scoring guide for the SAT essay test puts it. Somehow I doubt that the College Board will give it high marks.
Mr. Tonelli is a senior at Garfield High School in Seattle.
Yikes! I hate to tell young Mr. Tonelli, but the College Board isn’t done with him yet if he’s planning to apply for financial aid. Yep, they’ve got their fingers in that pie, too. The College Board’s Financial Aid PROFILE is used by most private colleges in the country, and “what a surprise,” it is not free either.
In case you haven’t noticed, applying to college is big business these days, and the College Board is in the thick of it. In Mr. Tonelli’s letter above he mentions David Coleman, the College Board’s CEO. Mr. Coleman is also one of the chief authors of the much discussed Common Core Curriculum. So, let’s go out on a limb and figure that the Common Core is another money-maker for the College Board and its not-for-profit model. Still, I’m sure that they are only interested in what’s best for our kids’ education…
Jeff Diamond serves on the Blind Brook Board of Education. This blog presents his point of view and does not represent the opinion of the Blind Brook Board of Education.