College Board calls off special SAT date for affluent, gifted students

June 6, 2012

The College Board has canceled a controversial plan to offer a special session of the SAT college entrance exam to students in a $4,500 summer program at Amherst College.

Students in the three-week college prep program were to have taken the SAT on Aug. 3. Sponsors touted it as a unique opportunity for students to sit for the SAT outside the busy academic year.

Reaction was overwhelmingly negative. Standardized test critics FairTest called for the New York nonprofit to halt the test, while bloggers and editorial writers assailed the prospect of affluent, gifted students gaining yet another advantage over other college applicants.

In an official statement Tuesday, the College Board concluded it would be “inappropriate” to hold the special test date for participants in the University Prep program, sponsored by the National Society for the Gifted & Talented. Aspects of the summer program, they said, “run counter to our mission of promoting equity and access, as well as to our beliefs about SAT performance.”

One partner in the summer program is the Princeton Review, a for-profit test-preparation company. (The Washington Post Co., too, offers for-profit test preparation through its Kaplan Test Prep.) The College Board has long discouraged test-prep classes, citing research that suggests they have little impact on scores.

The summer program “conflicted with their principles and public statements,” said Bob Schaeffer, public education director at the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, or FairTest. “Once that inconsistency was exposed, they had no other choice.”

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