For better or worse, the College Board plays a pivotal role in the lives of virtually any college-bound student. This is the entity that has historically been known most for developing the Scholastic Aptitude Test — or as you might know it, the dreaded SAT.
Of course, it’s important to have some sort of standard on which to base whether a high school graduate is ready to enter college. But how did the College Board become the arbiter of that information? Let’s dig a little deeper.
It looks like a business
Although the College Board is technically a non-profit organization, that doesn’t mean it’s some touchy-feely charity that only exists to make the world a better place. In fact, there are many aspects of how the board operates that closely mirror that of any major corporation:
- It collects tons of information about students who take the SAT — and, perhaps more importantly, the PSAT that precedes it.
- It pushes products on the public, most notably its “advanced placement,” or AP curriculum.
- It controls a massive congressional lobbying arm that helps maintain its prominence in schools nationwide.
It has a spotty past … and present
The College Board has been in the news lately in connection with controversial changes to Florida’s AP African-American studies classes. But you don’t have to look too far into the past to find other controversies — particularly involving current CEO David Coleman:
- He seemed to criticize a school shooting survivor for not being balanced enough in calling for new gun laws.
- He implemented truncated and largely unreliable online SATs during the pandemic instead of canceling the tests, which would have cut into the board’s revenue.
- He removed much of the demographic information from public reports about test scores, prompting concerns about the board’s transparency.