Dan Edmond's opinion article about the College Board's decisions on two recent SAT-related events mischaracterizes the organization's intentions and overlooks its track record of democratizing access to higher education.
The article suggested that the test scores of 199 students taking the SAT at Packer Collegiate in Brooklyn this past May should not have been invalidated even though auditors cited numerous, serious infractions of test center protocols that could have provided students at that test center with an unfair advantage. Whenever testing irregularities are reported by auditors, test-takers or test-center staff, ETS -- the organization that administers the SAT -- investigates those reports and, when necessary, invalidates the scores.
ETS and the College Board do not take lightly the decision to invalidate test scores, because we understand and hear firsthand the inconvenience and frustration such decisions cause students and their families. However, maintaining the integrity of the SAT and a fair administration process for all students is critical to ensuring the validity of test scores reported to colleges. The SAT plays an integral role in the admission process at nearly every four-year college and university in the nation, and it is our paramount responsibility to both students and admission officers to ensure that scores are earned on a level playing field.
Put simply, failure to invalidate test scores from the May 2 exam at Packer Collegiate would have been unfair to hundreds of thousands of other students who took the SAT around the world that same day.
For over a century, the College Board has worked tirelessly to promote access and equity in higher education, which is why the organization withdrew its plans to pilot a summer SAT administration in collaboration with the National Society for the Gifted and Talented. No doubt, the misadministration at Packer Collegiate and the summer SAT pilot incidents were unfortunate, but they should not distract from the College Board's accomplishments in expanding access to higher education.
For example, during the 2010-11 academic year the College Board provided nearly $100 million in free programs and services, including more than $37 million for the SAT Fee-Waiver Program. The College Board has been providing SAT fee waivers for more than 40 years to help ensure test fees are not a barrier to college admission, and today more than 20 percent of all SAT takers utilize the program.
The SAT was created to democratize access to education, so all students, regardless -- of their background -- could demonstrate their academic skills and knowledge through a fair, national benchmark of college readiness. Whether opening additional SAT test centers in high-need urban and rural areas or introducing the rapidly expanding SAT School Day initiative that enables students throughout more than 10 states to test in their home school on a weekday morning, our goal has always been to expand access to higher education for all students.
As it has for over 100 years, the College Board will continue to play a critical role in making that goal a reality.
Kathryn Juric is Vice President of the College Board's SAT Program. She leads global program strategy for the SAT, which is administered annually to nearly three million students worldwide.
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