The College Board Backs Off Threat

By Vaishali Honawar — January 04, 2005 1 min read

The College Board has decided not to pursue a warning to FairTest over the watchdog group’s posting of SAT score data on its Web site.

The New York City-based College Board, which owns the college-entrance exam, wrote in October to FairTest, a national group in Cambridge, Mass., that monitors standardized testing.

In its letter, the board chided FairTest, formally known as the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, for not seeking permission before putting SAT scores on its site.

FairTest uses SAT data broken down by race, gender, and family income to demonstrate what it alleges is inherent bias in the test.

“Your misuse overtly bypasses our ownership and significantly impacts the perceptions of students, parents, and educators regarding the services we provide,’’ Tasheem Lomax-Plaxico, the College Board’s assistant director for legal affairs, wrote in a letter to Robert Schaeffer, FairTest’s public education director.

But College Board spokeswoman Chiara Coletti said last month that the demand was a mistake.

“This was an overreaction by someone on our staff who thought she was doing the right thing,” Ms. Coletti said. “If there had been consultation with senior members of the staff, that letter would not have gone out.”

Ms. Coletti said the College Board’s initial challenge to FairTest’s practice was not because the organization is a frequent critic of the SAT.

Mr. Schaeffer said his group has been posting SAT score data on its Web site for nearly eight years, and has published the information in its newsletter for nearly two decades. He said that despite the College Board’s claim that people taking the SAT enjoy a level playing field, the score information “clearly shows large racial, gender, and social class gaps.”

He said when he first received the letter from College Board, he thought it was a prank.

“We decided there was absolutely no ground for the College Board letter,” Mr. Schaeffer said.

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A version of this article appeared in the January 05, 2005 edition of Education Week