The College Board, the huge nonprofit corporation which brings you the SAT and generally thinks it is way smarter than you are, has committed yet another knuckleheaded error.
The latest blunder is a printing error on the June 6 SAT exam — a test which costs $52.50 to take.
The error gave some test-takers extra time to complete the test. Some SAT takers had booklets saying they had 25 minutes to complete a particular section. Other booklets and the proctors’ manuals indicated 20 minutes as the time for the section.
The result was a hot, embarrassing mess, according to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest).
“The College Board understands the critical nature of this issue, and we are actively working with our partner ETS to determine next steps to ensure the fairness of the test and the validity of the scores we deliver,” the College Board said in a statement.
ETS is the Educational Testing Service, an entity with $1.13 billion in revenue in 2013 that actually develops, publishes and scores every SAT (thus leaving unanswered the vexing question of what the College Board actually does on a daily basis except apologize for SAT gaffes).
“We regret the confusion and concern this issue is causing for students and their families,” the College Board added.
Bob Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest, an opponent of standardized testing, predicted that the latest SAT error will exacerbate a growing trend of U.S. colleges and universities making massive standardized tests optional or ditching them altogether. (RELATED: Notable Schools That Don’t Require Standardized Test Scores)
“How do they assure all reported scores are consistent, accurate and fair?” Schaeffer asked press release obtained by The Daily Caller. “This foul-up will further accelerate the movement for college and university admissions offices to drop SAT requirement.”
Schaeffer also noted that the nature of the earth’s time zones means that the SAT is administered up to 12 hours earlier in Asia than in the United States — a situation which in this day and age is obviously rife with opportunities for fraud.
Previously this academic year, the College Board withheld a throng of scores over concerns that real questions were, indeed, available for purchase on a kind of SAT black market.
In May, a Homeland Security investigation resulted in the arrests of 15 Chinese nationals for allegedly scheming to have impersonators take the SAT and other tests for other people in exchange for cash.
In 2011, seven Long Island teenagers were arrested on charges of cheating on the SAT. In response to that fracas, the College Board announced that it would hire an ex-FBI director to analyze its security practices and provide more training to its proctors.
In 2006, the College Board and ETS managed to give wrong, lower scores to approximately half a million test takers. The College Board scrambled to fix the problem but did a terrible job, ultimately revealed that ETS had failed to re-scan SAT the scores of tens of thousands of students.
For decades, the creators of the SAT had sworn that their test measured immutable intelligence and could not be coached. A lot of people still believe these claims — which is hilarious since the SAT has changed relentlessly since its inception in 1926.
In March 2014, the College Board announced that the strange rite of passage will be undergoing yet another massive overhaul, which hasn’t happened since early in George W. Bush’s second term. (RELATED: SAT Makers Announce Latest ‘New’ SAT, Insult Rival ACT In Desperate Bid To Stay Relevant)
Before that makeover, the test had been a rock of permanence since Bill Clinton was president. Before that — in a stretch of immutability that may never again be equaled — the SAT had remained basically the same since 1974.
For the unveiling of the new SAT, David Coleman, the president of the College Board, proclaimed that both his company’s test and main rival ACT have “become disconnected from the work of our high schools.”
In response, the makers of the ACT noted that they have tinkered with their test much, much less over the years.
The first SAT occurred on June 23, 1926. It was then called the Scholastic Aptitude Test. A committee headed by Princeton psychologist Carl C. Brigham created the test. Brigham had worked on military IQ tests. Brigham later wrote a book concluding that American education was already in a decay that would accelerate “as the racial mixture becomes more and more extensive.” (RELATED: A Nostalgic Trip Down Memory Lane With The SAT)
Here is an unfortunate sample analogy question from the 1926 test: Epilepsy is to carpenter as stuttering is to: 1) tongue; 2) minister; 3) cure; 4) stammering; 5) fluttering.
By 1946, the makers of the SAT were taking great pride in claiming that their test assessed innate ability and could not be coached. They called the reading comprehension in particular “probably non-coachable.” At roughly the same time, Stanley Kaplan, the son of a plumbing contractor, began offering a fairly pricey SAT prep course.
These days, incidentally, the College Board has partnered with Khan Academy to offer free online test prep and instructional videos for its newest SAT. Until recently, the College Board published a book called “The Official SAT Study Guide with DVD.”
In 1981, a then-revolutionary test-prep company called The Princeton Review appeared on the scene and took America’s East Coast fairly by storm by generating huge score increases — to the great consternation of the College Board and ETS. In a 1987 legal settlement, John Katzman, The Princeton Review’s founder, would agree not to take any ETS tests for two years.
By the early 1990s, it was no longer conventional wisdom that the SAT was some uncoachable test of inherent intelligence. As a result, the makers of the SAT suffered a grave acronym crisis. Just as the “This Can’t Be Yogurt” restaurant chain changed its name to “The Country’s Best Yogurt,” the makers of the SAT created a new name for their test from its initials. In 1990, the “Scholastic Aptitude Test” became the “Scholastic Assessment Test.”
In 1993, the name was changed again to “SAT I: Reasoning Test” with the three letters officially standing for nothing at all.