This non-profit became a billion company that you may have used before
The College Board was founded in 1900 by 15 elite colleges and prep schools including Columbia and Princeton. Their goal was to increase the enrollment of students outside of the East coast. The first SAT was given in 1926 designed by Carl Bringham, a Princeton psychologist.
Brigham was a proponent of eugenics. Eugenics is the study to rearrange the human population with the goal to increase desirable characteristics. This idea was developed by Sir Francis Galton as a way to improve the human race. The study of eugenics was discredited as the Nazis adopted this as their reason for their actions against Jews, minorities, and disabled people.
Brigham believed Black people were intellectually inferior. He created the exam to show that people of color were intellectually inferior to white people. The same exam was adopted by the military prior to World War I to test soldiers on their intellectual ability.
The College Board runs a billion-dollar non-profit
The College Board runs the non-profit and its core product is the SAT and Advanced Placement exams that high school students take. The non-profit receives over $1 billion in annual revenue and $100 million in untaxed earnings. The non-profit also had $400 billion invested with hedge funds and private equity. Its chief executive David Coleman earns about $2 million a year for this non-profit.
The SAT was geared toward students living along the coast of the United States. In 1959, an Iowa-based organization created the American College Testing. This exam was focused on colleges in the middle of the country. The SAT was the exam of choice for colleges along the coast of the United States.
A tool is created to help students take the exam
The College Board believed there was no way for students to study for the exam. Stanley Kaplan began offering a college-based exam on the SAT he started in his parent’s basement in 1938. The Kaplan program grew into a billion-dollar company that expanded worldwide. Princeton Review followed with their test prep in this 4.5 billion year industry.
The College Board created another non-profit company called the Educational Testing System (ETS) in 1947. This company creates SAT questions and administers the exam. In 2018, the College Board paid ETS $350 million. This created more controversy with the College Board. The SAT and test prep is geared toward wealthy families who can afford the prices the non-profit charges. Wealthy people believed they could game the exam and their money helped fund this investment for their child.
Issues with the SAT
Students despised the SAT which caused anxiety as they studied for this on top of their current classes. By the time a student begins high school, they begin preparing for the test with the PSAT and SAT. In fact, last year my son was an 8th grader and he took the PSAT.
I don’t remember taking the PSAT that early when I was in school.
Students as well as teachers have issues with the exam. Teachers didn’t like the test because it was not focused on what they were teaching.
The cost of the exam hampered families with low income as students apply for college. College applications normally have a fee attached for prospective students. Then the costs for test prep adds to this figure.
Schools start to get away from the SAT/ACT requirement around 2008. Colleges started to see an increase in applicants and some were top-ranking students in their high school.
William Hiss, a former dean of Bates College found no difference in GPA and graduation rates for students who attended these schools and schools that required the SAT. The study identified that students who had good high school grades but did poorly on SAT scores had good college grades. Students who did well on the SAT and had poor grades in high school did not perform well in college.
Student support the struggling SAT in 2020
Schools are canceling the exam because of the coronavirus. Many students have been unable to take the exam with the stay at home order this year. More than 500 colleges including all Ivy League Schools have made the test optional for students. The University of California has made the decision to stop considering the test in 2023. Other schools are likely to join them.
Even though some schools placed a hold on the test, students are still signing up. Some schools, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale have made the test optional for students graduating in 2021. Other schools have delayed the test until 2023.
Students feel even if the test is optional, they do their best to find when the test will be offered in their area. They figure if they have the score this will help them get into a school as compared to a student who does not have a score. School administrators are in the habit of looking at the test score for students. Will not having a test score help or hurt students this year?
The current CEO increased the non-profit’s money making systems
In 2012, Coleman became the CEO and has turned the College Board into a cash machine. This year could be the downfall because of the virus and students not taking the SAT exam.
When Coleman arrived, he developed a partnership with Kahn Academy to offer free online SAT prep classes. This helped to quiet critics who felt the SAT was unfair to students from an underprivileged background.
Coleman began to offer discounts for statewide contracts. The College Board lowballed the offer compared to ACT prices. Fees from the College Board were millions less than the ACT. The state of Michigan paid $15 million less to SAT compared to ACT.
Under Coleman, the College Board offered the PSAT for $13. Students in the 8th and 9th grade could take the PSAT to gauge how they would do on the SAT.
When students take the exam, they are offered to receive valuable information about scholarships and colleges. Most students sign up for this which brings in 47 cents to the College Board. The College Board leases student information such as their ethnicity, religion, gender, and parent’s educational background to colleges.
The College Board is also in charge of the Advanced Placement (AP) exam. In 2018, the College Board reaped over $483 million in revenue. Economist Kristin Klopfenstein spent 12 years studying the program and believes the program is elitist since it was created. For many years, there were only 11 AP classes. To increase demand, the number of AP classes increased to 40 AP exams.
My son is in the 9th grade and is taking several AP classes. When I was in school, I was offered AP classes in 12th grade. The number of AP classes has grown considerably. I still haven’t figured out the purpose for a 9th or 10th grader to take AP classes.
AP exams cost $95 and if a student misses the registration there is a $40 late fee. If a student cancels their registration they are only offered $45 back. Then if students want to send scores to more than one school this costs an additional $15 per report. That is one expensive fee to mail a score.
By 2018, the SAT became the market leader again. The College Board won 10 state contracts including three that were held by the ACT. Coleman created a money-making machine for this non-profit.