The College Board is an American not-for-profit organization that was formed in December 1899 as the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) to expand access to higher education. While the College Board is not an association of colleges, it runs a membership association of institutions, including over 6,000 schools, colleges, universities, and other educational organizations.
The College Board develops and administers standardized tests and curricula used by K–12 and post-secondary education institutions to promote college-readiness and as part of the college admissions process. The College Board is headquartered in New York City. David Coleman has been the president of the College Board since October 2012. He replaced Gaston Caperton, former Governor of West Virginia, who had held this position since 1999.
In addition to managing assessments for which it charges fees, the College Board provides resources, tools, and services to students, parents, colleges and universities in the areas of college planning, recruitment and admissions, financial aid, and retention. It is partly funded by grants from various foundations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation until 2009.
The College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) was founded at Columbia University on December 22, 1899, by representatives of 12 universities and three high school preparatory academies. These were:
- Columbia University
- Colgate University
- University of Pennsylvania
- New York University
- Barnard College
- Union College
- Rutgers University
- Vassar College
- Bryn Mawr College
- Women's College of Baltimore (now Goucher College)
- Princeton University
- Cornell University
- Newark Academy
- Mixed High School, New York
- Collegiate Institute, New York
The organization's intent was to "adopt and publish a statement of the ground which should be covered and of the aims which should be sought by secondary school teaching in each of the following subjects (and in such others as may be desirable), and a plan of examination suitable as a test for admission to college: Botany, Chemistry, English, French, German, Greek, History, Latin, Mathematics, Physics, Zoology".
The College Board maintains a numbered registry of countries, college majors, colleges, scholarship programs, test centers, and high schools.
Tests and programs
The SAT is a fee-based standardized test for college admissions in the United States first administered in 1926. Tests begin at $46 and go up to $60 for an additional essay. In addition, there are various fees that can accumulate. Registering later results in a $29 fee, registering by phone results in a $15 fee and changing a test date, center, or test type results in a $29 fee. The waitlist testing fee is $49 and every additional score report is $12. As a result, student testing fees can often run up to $200 or more for a single test. The SAT is administered by the College Board in the United States and is developed, published, and scored by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The SAT covers writing, reading, and mathematics. SAT scores range from 400 to 1600, with each of the two sections worth up to 800 points. Most students take the test during their junior or senior year of high school. In the marketplace, the SAT competes with the ACT, another standardized college admissions test.
The SAT Subject Tests are intended to measure student performance in specific areas, such as mathematics, science, and history.
On March 5, 2014, the College Board announced that a redesigned version of the SAT would be administered for the first time in 2016.
The PSAT/NMSQT is a fee-based standardized test that provides firsthand practice for the SAT for a cost of $16. It also functions as a qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Corporation's scholarship programs.
The College Board's Advanced Placement Program is an extensive program that offers high school students the chance to participate in what the College Board describes as college-level classes for a fee, reportedly broadening students' intellectual horizons and preparing them for college work. It also plays a large part in the college admissions process, showing students' intellectual capacity and genuine interest in learning. The program allows many students to gain college credit for high performance on the AP exams, much in the same manner as the CLEP. Granting credit, however, is at the discretion of the college. There are 2,900 colleges that grant credit and/or advanced standing. Critics of the Advanced Placement Program charge that courses and exams emphasize breadth of content coverage instead of depth.
The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) provides students of any age including high schoolers, college students, homeschooled students, adults, senior citizens, children, and exceptional toddlers with the opportunity to demonstrate college-level achievement through a program of exams in undergraduate college courses. There are 2,900 colleges that grant credit for passing CLEP exams.
The College Board's Accuplacer test is a computer-based placement test that assesses reading, writing and math skills. The Accuplacer test includes reading comprehension, sentence skills, arithmetic, elementary algebra, college-level mathematics and the writing test, Writeplacer. The Accuplacer test is used primarily by more than 1,000 high schools and colleges to determine a student's needed placement. Often community colleges have specific guidelines for students requiring the Accuplacer test. The Accuplacer Companion paper-and-pencil tests allows for students with disabilities to take the test through its braille, large print and audio tests. The biggest benefit of the Accuplacer and Accuplacer Companion tests are their ability to be scored immediately through an online scoring system and taken in remote locations. While there are normally no fees for taking the test, some institutions may charge a fee to retake the test. Note that if a testing institution is not local, an examinee may be required to arrange a proctor for the test. If so, a local library may be willing to serve as proctor as there are not many other options for individuals in this case. Most schools will only test their own admissions candidates.
SpringBoard is a pre-Advanced Placement program created by the College Board to prepare students who intend to take AP courses or college-level courses in their scholastic career.
The curriculum is applicable to grades 6 through 12.
CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE
The College Board also offers the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, a financial aid application service that many institutions use in determining family contribution and financial assistance packages. This is a fee-based service to institutions. Ironically, students also must pay a fee to submit it to a school.
Since at least the late 1970s, the College Board has been subject to criticism from students, educators, and consumer rights activists. The College Board owns the SAT and many students must take SAT exams for admission to competitive colleges such as Ivy League institutions. Although the ACT is usually accepted as an alternative to the SAT, some colleges require students to take the SAT Subject Tests. Some colleges also require students submit a College Board "CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE" when applying for financial aid. As there are no broadly accepted alternatives to College Board's AP, SAT Subject Test, and CSS/Financial Aid products, the company is often criticized as exploiting its monopoly on these products.
FairTest, an organization that advocates against over-dependence on standardized tests in school admissions, maintains that the SAT often underestimates the aptitude of African-American students and others. FairTest maintains a list of SAT-optional colleges on its website.
The consumer rights organization Americans for Educational Testing Reform (AETR) has criticized the College Board for violating its non-profit status through excessive profits and exorbitant executive compensation; nineteen of its executives make more than $300,000 per year, with CEO Gaston Caperton earning $1.3 million in 2009 (including deferred compensation). AETR also claims that College Board is acting unethically by selling test preparation materials, directly lobbying legislators and government officials, and refusing to acknowledge test-taker rights.
The SAT Reasoning Test with essay costs $64.50 ($93.50 if late) as of 2018, the AP exams cost US$94 as of 2018, and taking AP exams is often a requirement for students taking AP classes. The SAT Subject Tests cost a baseline of $26 with a $22 fee for each test. Furthermore, there are numerous other services that can be added to the basic costs, including late registration, score verification services, and various answering services that are available. SAT score reports cost $12 per college for 1–2-week electronic delivery, or 2–4-week paper or disk delivery, depending on what method the school requires ($31 extra for two-day processing). The College Board allows high school administrators to authorize fee waivers for some services to students from low-income families, generally those meeting National School Lunch Act criteria. In addition, due to the competitive nature of the test, many students find it necessary to take preparatory courses or to have SAT tutoring, which can cost hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars.
Even the College Board's College Scholarship Service Profile (CSS), a college financial aid application meant to help students pay for college, requires a fee.
In 2006, the College Board had $582.9 million of revenue but spent only $527.8 million, leaving a $55.1 million surplus. Budget surpluses persist despite market-leading compensation packages for the College Board's executives – in 2009, the College Board paid out a $1.3 million/year package for CEO Caperton, more than the head of the American Red Cross or Harvard University.
In 2005, MIT Writing Director Les Perelman plotted essay length versus essay score on the new SAT from released essays and found a high correlation between them. After studying 23 graded essays he found that the longer the essay was, the higher the score it was given. Perelman found that he could accurately determine the score of an essay without even reading the essay. In his study, he discovered that several of these essays were full of factual inaccuracies. The College Board does not claim to grade for factual accuracy.
Perelman, along with the National Council of Teachers of English also criticized the 25-minute writing section of the test for damaging standards of writing taught in the classroom. They say that writing teachers training their students for the SAT will not instill revision, depth and accuracy, but will instead guide them to produce long, formulaic, and wordy pieces. "You're getting teachers to train students to be bad writers", concluded Perelman.
Some teachers have criticized AP classes as restrictive in the nature of their curriculum and yet indispensable due to the importance of AP classes in the college admissions process.
Additionally, starting with a pilot program in 2018 and officially rolling out to all schools in 2019, the College Board will require students to sign up for AP tests during the fall, before early-round college decisions are out. While the College Board has stated that this is to ensure students commit to learning the material at the beginning of the year, many students have complained about it, stating that because they will not know whether or not the college they end up attending will grant credit for the test, the new, early registration deadline forces students to pay for tests that they will receive no benefit from.
In March 2006, it was discovered that the College Board had mis-scored several thousand tests taken in October 2005.
Many colleges use the SAT score to decide acceptance and scholarships.
As of 2018, the College Board charges $0.45 per name for access to student information. An investigation by the New York Civil Liberties Union revealed that one of the College Board's customers was JAMRS, a military recruitment program run by the United States Department of Defense. The College Board and ACT have been sued over the use of this information. In addition, there is criticism that students are not sufficiently made aware that their data is being sold, or that disclosure of certain data is optional. The College Board has received substantial backlash for these practices.
On August 25, 2018, the SAT test given in America was discovered to be a recycled October 2017 international SAT test given in China.
- ACT, a test by ACT, Inc., the main competitor to the College Board's SAT
- College admissions in the United States
- IB Diploma Programme, a pre-university educational program administered by the International Baccalaureate, the main competitor to the College Board's Advanced Placement (AP) Program
- Writing assessment