Testing Company Corrupting Education


Mindy Luo, Staff Writer

The SAT. The AP exams.

These words are enough to send any student down the college application rabbit hole. Student life has become dominated by the overwhelming stress brought on by review books, practice tests, and SAT prep classes.

The College Board, the administrator of these tests, has secretly infiltrated the lives of every student in the nation, and, while many still do not realize it, the influence of the organization has grown immensely over the past couple decades by monopolizing entrance exams to higher education.

Since College Board has sole control over the standardization of both the SAT and AP exams, it is no wonder that they have begun to abuse their power. The Americans for AETR (Americans for Educational Testing Reform) actually awarded College Board a “D grade” for numerous “areas of misconduct.”

According to The Washington Post, College Board has been using its non-profit status to exempt itself from taxes for a higher profit even though it is run just like a regular corporation; they charge for services and their executives earn an exorbitant amount.

Many College Board executives are paid 6 figure salaries, which is comparable to executives of “for-profit” companies. David Coleman, College Board Chief Executive, was paid $734,192 in 2015.

However, College Board’s worst form of exploitation might actually be how it has exacerbated the inequality in school districts.

It is no mystery how expensive College Board exams are; SAT’s cost $50 each and AP’s are over $100. While many students and their families may think it is quite worth it to splurge for their education, the sad truth is that many low-income students are put at an extreme disadvantage since they cannot afford these pricy tests.

Underserved schools are also continually at a disadvantage when it comes to AP exams since they do not have the same resources as the more well-funded schools. At Campolindo, we have almost every AP class and well-qualified teachers who know what they are doing. However, it is not the same for our lower income, counterparts.

The fact that anyone can score high on their tests as long as they prepare in advance is also a fundamental problem with College Board. Since the SAT mainly tests things that aren’t part of the normal high school curriculum, it is more about learning the little tricks and patterns throughout the test to score high. In order to learn these skills, many upper-class families pay thousands of dollars for their kids to go to SAT prep centers to attend private tutoring sessions.

Take the local Lafayette C2 education center. They claim to increase a student’s SAT score by 200 points, but their annual fees equate to thousands of dollars. The quality education provided there is clearly aimed at only the economically privileged portion of the demographic.

Taylor, a tutor at c2 education who specializes in teaching the SAT to students in Lamorinda, recognizes the limitations set by the College Board test. “I think students, especially lower-income students, would be better served by a test that depends less on ‘studying the test’ and more on actual aptitude. College Board makes a good effort to standardize testing, but some excellent students are slipping through the cracks, which is a shame,” said Taylor.

I believe in the power of knowledge. However, when one learns that even education has been corrupted by corporate greed, it is impossible not to feel lost in our economically divided nation. Once a free resource, education has been cut off from the masses and made into another privilege only accessible to the rich and powerful. No longer is education made for just anyone. This bitter irony is making it increasingly apparent that our country is not interested in an “equity agenda.”