High-Stakes Testing

Each year, a million or so high school students pay $45 for the chance to prove themselves with the College Board’s SAT. A good percentage of those students pay for the College Board’s test prep courses as well. All that testing adds up: The Big Money reports that the nonprofit College Board racked up a surplus of $55 million in 2006, and that its senior staffers earn an average of well over $200,000 a year. Not a bad line of work, if you can test into it. [%comments]

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  1. mfw13 says:

    Too bad that high-stakes testing, be it the SAT or any other type, does little to actually improve education.

    I wonder how much better our education system would be if we took all the money that was spent on testing and instead devoted it to training and hiring teachers?

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  2. Brent says:

    mfw13,
    Money for the SAT comes from private pockets, not the public coffer.

    As much as you can make the case that more money is needed for training and hiring teachers, you can also easily make the case that money has nothing to do with it. Many countries that score better in international testing spend signifigantly lesss than America does per student directly in the classroom.

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  3. jonathan says:

    At least they’re profitable and make real profits, not fake ones like Wall Street financial institutions reported for years so their employees could take home millions, not a few hundred thousand.

    And at least the SAT, AP, etc. provide genuine service to people. We focus on the tests but AP in particular has driven standards for learning up, which is a benefit to the country.

    And finally, would we want people running, writing, defining and reviewing such important material to be paid poorly? Well, by Wall Street standards they are.

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  4. jb says:

    I did some development work for CollegeBoard last year. They are in a sweet, sweet place right now.

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  5. a_c says:

    Isn’t the College Board a nonprofit?

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  6. Ben Z says:

    I don’t know about the College Board’s prep classes, but I took Princeton Review’s prep class and my score went up 200 points (it wasn’t bad at all before I took the class either, and continual re-takes produced the same scores until I finished the prep class). That just makes me question the test, though, if money can produce those results.

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  7. ascendingPig says:

    I just graduated high school, and I can assure you that AP tests have most certainly not boosted course quality. They do, however, put serious strain on families who are already worried about paying for college: In the past year along, I have spent over $500 on AP tests, and I have taken fewer than many kids my age. Even AP tests that are shortened or should be counted as one combined test, like the Physics C exams or economics, are priced the same as one three-hour test.

    Furthermore, if you suspect your test was graded incorrectly, you have to pay the College Board exorbitant fees to have the multiple choice section rescored by hand. I have friends who have gone from 2 to 5 on AP tests, and 560 to 720 on SATs, because the College Board screwed up on scoring them.

    And by the way, $55 million surplus means that this money is NOT going to the graders, so scratch the argument that the graders deserve high salaries for their work.

    Also, if you’re wondering how a nonprofit can charge so much: They send the tests to a for-profit scoring branch. Thus, the CB can charge $40-$950 (for some higher-level tests, I’ve heard) and not pay taxes on it.

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  8. Rob says:

    Funny, my roommate just got passed up last week for being transfered to full time due to “Bugetary constraints.” The College Board may be rolling in it, but just like the banks, only at the top.

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