"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Gold-plated Incompetency

A few years ago before the current orgy of tabulation reached the current level of hysteria, someone told me that ETS had gold-plated fixtures in their lavatories in Princeton. I wonder if this is true, or if they have since shifted to platinum.

With yet another SAT misadventure reported in today's Times, it is hard to keep track of the screw-ups at ETS and their "non-profit" overseer, the College Board, an organization that, according to Bob Laird, "oscillates constantly between the magnetic poles of wanting to do good and wanting to do well." Looking at their 2004 Form 990 (pdf) in comparison to their incredible foul-ups with the high-stakes SAT, we may conclude that they are doing more well than good. $412, 000,000 in revenue--not bad.

With more and more AP tests promised by Bush education policy, could the College Board be more focused on capturing those markets, rather than being focused on the tests that students have already paid for? From Bob Laird on a little history of College Board involvement in California AP testing:
In addition, the university's [UC's] decision in the mid-1980s to grant an extra grade point for honors-level high school courses in the calculation of student grade point averages for UC helped trigger a huge expansion in the AP program in California. From 1985 to 2001, the number of AP exams taken by California students increased from 42,950 to 259,901-a growth rate of more than 600 percent. At $78 a pop in 2002 (subtracting the $7 per test that goes to the administering high school), the AP testing program in California alone generated about $20 million in revenue for the College Board. For the 2002-03 academic year, California accounted for 11.4 percent of all SAT I tests taken, 34.4 percent of all SAT II tests taken, and 18.3 percent of AP exams taken worldwide.

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