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College Board Criticized For Offering Exclusive Summer SAT

Standardized test

June 5, 2012

The College Board, which administers the SAT, is being criticized for arranging a special SAT for students enrolled in an expensive college preparatory summer program.

As reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education, the summer program, called University Prep, is being held at Amherst College from July 15 through August 4, and is sponsored by the National Society for the Gifted & Talented. The session costs about $4,500 and includes courses on test-taking strategies and skills. Those enrolled in the program are scheduled to take the SAT on August 3. According to a statement from the Society, this marks the first time that the SAT will be administered outside the standard academic year.

Critics have blasted the College Board for unfairly favoring affluent students. "Granting the opportunity to take the exam outside the regular academic year and after intense SAT coaching only to an economically elite segment of the college-going population is blatantly unfair," said a letter delivered this week to the College Board from the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, which was quoted in USA Today. The letter was signed by Elizabeth A. Stone, an educational consultant in San Mateo, California; and Robert A. Schaeffer, public education director at the National Center for Fair and Open Testing.

According to The Chronicle, Matt Lisk, executive director of the SAT, explained that students and college counselors have often asked for the opportunity to take the SAT during the summer. He described the August date as a "pilot" to begin weighing the possibility of a permanent summer administration of the exam.

"Because of the obvious differences in the logistics of testing in the summer due to school and faculty schedules, a pilot program such as this is the only sound way to work through potential operational challenges before considering the expansion to millions of students and thousands of sites," Lisk said in a written statement quoted by The Chronicle. "If successful, we will examine the expansion of the scope of the summer SAT administration to additional locations in the near future."

But critics pointed out that the exclusive August SAT was not initially publicized as a pilot program.

"If the August 3 test is really a 'pilot SAT administration,' as the College Board began claiming after the special exam became controversial, why was this never mentioned in any prior publicity, including news releases on the College Board's own letterhead?" asked the letter from Stone and Schaeffer, as published by The Washington Post. "And, if a 'pilot' test were even necessary, given that the College Board offered a regular SAT in July for many years, would it not make sense to try out the summer exam at public schools, including those serving low-income students?"


Compiled by Yaffa Klugerman

Sources:

"College Board pulls plug on summer SAT for gifted students," usatoday.com, June 4, 2012, Mary Beth Marklein

"College Board Urged to Cancel Special August SAT," washingtonpost.com, June 4, 2012, Valerie Strauss

"This Summer Will Bring an Exclusive SAT Offer," chronicle.com, May 30, 2012, Eric Hoover

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