Thursday, June 7, 2012

CollegeBoard Backs Down on Special Offer to the "Rich and Gifted"

CollegeBoard had plans to administer the SAT outside the normal, academic year, but only to students attending an expensive, three-week summer camp at Amherst College, called University Prep.  The college preparation program costs $4,500 and is sponsored by The National Society for the Gifted and Talented.   Citing concerns about access and equity in education, the CollegeBoard pulled the plug on the pilot program, but only after pressure from a number of professional associations and advocacy groups.

The offer of a summer SAT test date to the "rich and gifted" raised a number of troublesome issues.  First, there are many students who would benefit from the opportunity to take the SAT in the summer without the distraction of homework, sports, lessons, etc.  For example, student athletes or those who are heavily involved with work and/or extracurricular activities, are among those who would find it advantageous to have a summer test date available to them.  Second, studies show that students from higher socio-economic backgrounds already outperform other students.  This special opportunity would have given further advantage to test-takers from wealthier families.  In addition, attendees of the camp would have been able to send their scores to colleges and universities before students taking the SAT in October.  Not to mention, their test scores would have been labeled June, 2012, which aside from being untrue, would make them indistinguishable from other June, 2012 scores. 

Part of the summer program included test preparation by The Princeton Review, a for-profit organization.  The CollegeBoard has said that expensive, private instruction is unnecessary for improving test scores.

A summer SAT test date would be welcomed by many counselors, students and families!  However, offering this pilot program only to an elite group was viewed as unfair.

HECA, along with the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest), the National College Advocacy Group (NCAG), and the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) had protested against the CollegeBoard's plans to offer the special, summer test date to attendees of the high-priced camp.  Specifically, one of HECA's very own members, independent college consultant Elizabeth Stone, wrote a letter to CollegeBoard and rallied other members of HECA to do the same.

I am very proud to be a member of HECA as well as NACAC!

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