Students and Teachers are Puppets of the CollegeBoard
by Sonam Ghosh
For years, standardized tests like the SAT have been administered to aspiring high school students in order to have a chance into their choice of college. Students and parents are pressured into practicing day and night for the SATs as well as well spending hundreds to thousands of dollars on prep classes or tutors in order to help them achieve a high score, which makes them seem redeemable in the eyes of the college admissions officer.
The College Board and others argue that the SAT gives opportunity to lower income students when, in reality, they gain no advantage. In fact, upper middle class to higher income students are given an advantage as their parents have the means to afford for them prestigious and costly programs to help them earn high scores. Students are put into a highly pressurized and time crunched situation to focus readily for the SATs that does not assess college readiness.
The College Board argues that the SATs assess college preparedness, such as a someone getting a high score of the 2300-2400 is more likely to get high grades in their freshman courses as opposed to someone getting a 1500 of which the College Boards standards assess would perform in the average B to C range in college. The Math section, for example, does not test anything on advanced topics such as Pre-Calculus, higher Algebra II, and, more importantly, Calculus. Someone who gets a 600 on the Math Section does not mean he/she will not be able to get a high grade in their first year Calculus class especially since they don not test on actual college math.
The Advanced Placement Program by the College Board offers college leveled courses for high school students ranging from Calculus to English Language. There is a wide variety courses available in the Humanities and STEM fields by the College Board. Hundreds of thousands of students take exams for these subjects every May in order to gain a score of three or better which gives them potential eligibility for college credit. The problem arises when the emphasis on these courses gets out of hand. The College Board formulates the curriculum and content for the teachers as well as giving them a specific period to teach all the content. On top of this, a greater emphasis on earning a high score is put on both the teacher and the student. The teacher is pressured into the state of caring about the score his/her students receive on the exam and the emphasis on the teaching the material effectively goes away. Additionally, there’s lack of flexibility and variety given by the College Board to the teachers as teachers have to conform to the curriculum set by them. Like the SATs, the exams cost money ($89 per exam); students and parents will once again go to great lengths by buying preparation courses and tutors.
Should we really have an external force have so much control over the education system? On top of testing services, the College Board plays the main role in the CSS profile financial aid application for college, which additionally costs money like all their services. The FAFSA is a required and free financial aid application required by all colleges, but most colleges also require the CSS. Next, the College Board is seeping into Elementary and Secondary education by playing a major role in creating the Common Core, a curriculum and set of standards created to supposedly increase and help academic performance in the United States. The Common Core has been shown by experts to have redundant methods that do not give further rise to better problem solving or critical thinking such as a complex way of doing addition instead of the old method of carrying numbers over.
By the looks of it, The College Board, a testing company, has a solid grip over the education system in the United States. Many students are not aware or take account into this situation. The College Board like other monopolized companies make millions and millions of dollars off of these services and has backed up support from educational professionals in the federal government who were once part of ETS (Educational Testing Service, company responsible for making SAT and AP examinations). Teachers and students are playing into their hands. Wouldn’t it be better that students could be assessed on material that’s actually needed for college and doesn’t discriminate against income groups or how quick one’s mind can process information? Wouldn’t it be better if teachers could decide the curriculum, and teach the material that they want in an effective manner without the pressure of focusing on exams? Change won’t come any time soon but it should be made apparent of the College Board’s tight influence and grip on the education system
Sonam Ghosh is a student in Advanced Placement English Language and Composition