College Board Seeks to Suppress Test Equity Charts

University Testing

For nearly twenty years, FairTest has distilled annual college admissions test results published by the American College Testing Program and the College Entrance Examination Board into simple charts summarizing key data about the tests’ lack of equity. The SAT and ACT score charts are among the most frequently accessed items on the FairTest website, They are also regularly referenced by education and civil rights assessment reform allies, policy makers and the news media.


Now, one test maker is trying to stop FairTest from making this information public. A recent letter from the College Board’s Legal Affairs department asserts that both the ACT and SAT charts for 2004 cannot be published without the company’s explicit permission. The first claim is ludicrous, since the ACT is a produced by a rival company not in any way associated with the College Board. The second would have more credibility if the College Board were also warning the hundreds of newspapers and research journals that use SAT scores to design and print their own charts under the “fair use” exception to copyright laws. Moreover, the SAT tables FairTest creates are not copied from College Board publications but derived and calculated from data in the firm's College-Bound Seniors Annual Report.


The lawyer’s letter reveals the College Board’s motivation for trying to crack down on free speech, noting that FairTest publication of the tables, “significantly impacts the perceptions of students, parents, and educators regarding the services we provide.” That is precisely FairTest’s goal since the data clearly show lingering racial, gender and income gaps despite the Board’s claim that the SAT is “a level playing field.” In a backhanded compliment, the College Board recognizes FairTest’s impact: “We recognize that you are a formidable organization within a community which has often authored dialogue concerning College Board offerings, such as the SAT Reasoning Test. . .”


To continue encouraging the “dialogue” about admissions test equity, here are the 2004 test score charts the College Board does not want you to read.