The College Board Addiction

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A few days ago Brown University announced that it had has admitted 8.7 percent of high school students who applied to be Brown students next year.

How much of that is specifically due to what happens over at the College Board, asks Brown students. According to editorial page a piece in the Brown Daily Herald:

Recently the College Board, maker of the SAT, SAT II and Advanced Placement exams, reflected on the career of its longtime president, Gaston Caperton…. Caperton’s reign began in 1999 and saw the addition of a verbal reasoning section to the SAT and a tripling of the number of low-income students taking AP exams. Minority students exhibited an increased participation as well. These supposed improvements are of mixed significance. In fact… while nearly 15 percent of students taking AP exams were black, only 4 percent of students actually passing those exams were black. Getting students to take the exams — and pay the fees — is not enough. Schools must have the opportunity to prepare them properly.

Similarly, the structure of AP courses and exams controls over a year’s worth of high school curriculum for advanced students hoping to be competitive college applicants. The AP curriculum is not nearly as holistic as the International Baccalaureate Program in terms of preparing students to think critically and build interdisciplinary connections as they will need to do in college.

Wow, that College Board, the nonprofit association that sells and administers standardized tests, controls virtually the entire inflow to Brown, doesn’t it? Yes, and to every other school. What if it’s products aren’t so great?

It’s a legitimate concern. Aside from reading the essay, the College Board, from Advanced Placement to the SAT to financial aid, essentially is the sorting mechanism into college.

Now technically College Board is an association, it’s not a company or an independent organization, but can’t really listen to its 5,900 members, can it? No, it can’t. Individual colleges just choose the kids.

The factors on which they get to choose on are all decided by 45 Columbus Avenue. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer