College Board Challenged to Crack Down on SAT Abuses

University Testing

FairTest has urged College Board President Gaston Caperton to “eliminate contradictions between your public statements and the practices of the company you head” by cracking down on institutions which misuse SAT scores, the Board’s major product. The College Board itself is among the major test score abusers.

Reacting to University of California President Richard Atkinson’s proposal to end the use of the SAT I for undergraduate admission, Caperton issued a news release stating, “He is absolutely right that there is a tendency to overemphasize the College Board’s SAT, and all other standardized admissions tests. As President of the College Board, I welcome the opportunity to join forces with educators to curb this growing obsession.”

In a letter delivered to Caperton, FairTest replied, “Condemning a general trend to ‘overemphasize’ the SAT while engaging in specific practices that encourage ‘this growing obsession’ is blatant hypocrisy.”

The FairTest letter noted that the College Board “directly encourages the very overemphasis on the SAT which you so properly criticize and, in fact, condones abuses of the Board’s Guidelines on the Uses of College Board Test Scores and Related Data.” For example, the 2001 edition of the College Board’s own College Handbook includes profiles of many schools which list absolute SAT “cut-off” requirements in violation of the Guidelines’ warning to “guard against using minimum test scores.” FairTest urged the board to stop publishing such requirements and to reject profiles of colleges that use them.

FairTest also called on Caperton to stop the transmittal of test scores to schools and scholarship agencies, such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (see Examiner, Spring 1999) and many state-run tuition aid programs, with minimum test score requirements in violation of Guidelines on the Uses of College Board Test Scores and Related Data. The Guidelines instruct the College Board to, “Assure appropriate use of its tests and related services by . . . seeking out instances of misuse and providing advice and assistance to the users in question.” The FairTest letter noted, “If colleges or other test-score misusers do not react responsibly to offers of assistance, we urge you to issue strong, public statements criticizing their violations. If that also fails, FairTest suggests that you seek to terminate such institutions’ membership in the College Board.”

“We look forward to your specific responses to these concrete proposals, which would give substance to your recent statements regarding the proper roles of tests and related materials,” the letter concluded.

• FairTest's letter to College Board President Caperton