Test Prep Firms and the Laws of Attraction
Dear Extra Credit:
I think it's fairly certain that high schools sell the names and addresses of their students to test prep firms. We got a steady onslaught of mailed materials [for test preparation] in my daughter's name well before she signed up for the PSAT, SAT or ACT.
Who is pocketing the money from the test prep firms? If students' names are being sold for marketing, they should at least get the money and a chance to opt out. I'm curious about the types of goodies the prep firms are offering schools to get these marketing targets -- reduced prices for on-site test preps, free admission for low-income kids, etc. Is money changing hands? Do the school boards watch this? And if the SAT and ACT companies are selling the names, I don't recall any disclosure or permission asked of the students. Why do they get to sell these names without compensation to those affected?
Schools that sell students' names and addresses to test prep firms would not only deeply annoy many of us parents, but as I understand it, would also violate the law. Such information is covered by privacy laws, with the only exception being the military, which Congress has authorized to collect such information for recruiting purposes if a parent does not object.
I asked Carina Wong, spokeswoman for Kaplan Inc., the moneymaking part of The Washington Post Co., how test prep companies such as hers get such a reputation.