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For Testing Agencies, Profit Tops Equity

Illustration by Neelam Khan

It is expected of most high school students who plan to apply to college that they will take a great number of standardized College Board tests throughout the course of their high school careers. These tests, such as the ACT, SAT, and Advanced Placement (AP) tests supposedly prepare these students for college, as well as provide college admissions officers with a standardized way of examining potential students’ academic capabilities.

There are many issues with the system of standardized tests in America that need addressing, like the numerous inequalities they foster between students. Evidence shows that those who cannot afford private tutors or prep classes generally score significantly lower on these tests. Furthermore, for many students, these tests are not an accurate measure of aptitude,  intelligence, or likelihood that they will succeed in college. These are controversial aspects of the tests that deserve the examination of these nonprofit organizations.

The ACT’s website proudly claims itself to be a “mission driven, non-profit organization,” and the College Board calls itself “a not-for-profit organization that connects students with college success.” However, students who do not qualify for any fee reductions when registering for AP exams pay $94 per exam. The SAT, including the essay section, costs sixty dollars. While these tests supposedly “unlock potential and create solutions” for students, they are also extremely expensive, and many students have no choice but to take them, if not once, multiple times.

According to the organization’s most recently released data, it has a yearly revenue of over $750 million. In addition, nineteen of the College Board executives make over $300,000 per year, over $200,000 more than the average salary made by a nonprofit executive. While the individual salaries of executives do not effect whether or not an organization is a nonprofit, this money should instead be used to make these tests more affordable for students.

If the College Board was committed to its status as a true nonprofit, it would make its resources far more affordable and accessible for all students. Of course, in order for the College Board to remain functional, they require funding, but a larger portion of the money they make could be allotted for lowering the price of the tests and creating better resources for students to prepare for them (thus making an effort to lessen the achievement gap between those who can afford private tutors and those who cannot).

Despite the fact that in many ways, the College Board does not function like a typical nonprofit, there is no technical reason that they should have this status stripped away. Though they legally qualify as a nonprofit, the College Board’s actions and use of their money to enrich their executives are counter to the focus on social good that I believe a nonprofit embodies.