CURMUDGUCATION Repost: How SAT Saves Market Share

The slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.




How SAT Saves Market Share

Posted: 03 Jan 2016 09:38 AM PST

The College Board, manufacturers and sellers of the SAT “suite” of tests as well as AP materials, has been struggling to regain share of the lucrative college gateway test market.

Not that they’re hurting. When the company brought in Gasper Caperton to help solve some cash flow issues, he announced that he didn’t want to run just “a testing company.” Caperton boosted fees, increased market by (among other things) getting states to punch PSAT tickets for students, and selling student information to colleges. Revenue reports for the non-profit College Board run from “$500 million to $1 billion” The College Board’s Form 990 from 2013 shows total revenue of $840,672,990 with a whopping $98,894,865 left over after expenses.

The College Board is a non-profit, which means it doesn’t have to share any of that $100 million profit with shareholders or owners. When Caperton left, he was making more than the head of Harvard, more than the head of the American Red Cross. Nineteen other executives were making over $300K. David Coleman, in his first full year of head honchoship after being hired mid-2012, received a full $734,192 in compensation.

Meanwhile, the SAT is battling for market share with ACT. Part of that battle has involved a technique familiar to manufacturers of soft drinks and beer– create a larger line of products to suck up space in the store and build market loyalty among customers. To that end, the College Board has rolled out a full range of products, allowing students to start taking some version of the SAT as early as eight grade.

There has been a full court press of PR for the New! Improved! SAT, but the College Board has not banked simply on selling the SAT experience one hopeful and terrified high school junior at a time.

One of the selling points of the new test has been its alignment with the Common Core, but that’s not a selling point just (or even) for individual test takers. It has allowed the College Board to pitch their test to entire states.

After all– the federal government still says that states must give a Big Standardized Test at least once to high school students. And the test ought to be aligned to the state standards. And hey– look at that! David Coleman, architect of the Common Core is now head of the College Board. The SAT should serve as a suitable BS Tests right out of the box!

And so last year, the College Board underbid and overlobbied the ACT to win the contract to be the exit exam for Michigan schools. The state of Connecticut has dumped the SBAC and replaced it with the SAT. Colorado is about to switch over to the SAT for its juniors. New Hampshire is also on the list, along with Delaware. (Idaho and Alaska require students to take one of several choices which include the SAT). About fifteen states require taking the ACT.

Is there some benefit in this mandatory testing? Do students get a special boost on their way out the door? Do states get a big PR edge (you know those kids from Statesylvania– they’re always better at everything because they have to take the SAT)? Is their research indicating that Big Standardized Tests, especially ones manufactured by experienced test manufacturers, are a good predictor of anything other than socio-economc background? Or should we pay attention to the research that shows that high schools grades are the best predictors of college success? Did anyone benefit from the PSAT rollout fiasco this year?

What is the actual benefit to, well– anybody in making every student take the SAT or ACT?

There’s only one benefit that’s immediately clear– the benefit to test manufacturer’s bottom line. The SAT is working to claw back market share by selling their test product, in bulk, to folks in state capitols so that taxpayers can go ahead and foot the bill for students who neither want or need to take the test. It’s marketing genius, even if it has no actual educational benefit and costs the taxpayers a bundle. And it’s a double win for the test manufacturers– the more students who take the test, the more data the test manufacturers have to sell off to colleges and other interested parties. Ka-ching!

The college of your choice may not care about the SAT. The experts say not to take the SAT, not this year. But in some locations, your state government says you must take the test. Because, reasons. Ka-ching.


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MDEQ spokesperson Brad Wurfel resigns too | Blogs | Detroit Metro Times

Brad Wurfel, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality spokesperson, tendered his resignation Tuesday (December 30) following news that DEQ director Dan Wyant was resigning.

“I have greatly appreciated my time as Communications Director at the DEQ, but I am looking forward to pursuing new opportunities in the new year. I tendered my resignation today as well,” Wurfel wrote in an email to close contacts Tuesday night.

The two resignations comes on the heels of a Snyder-appointed Flint Water Advisory Task Force’s findings that DEQ was “primarily responsible for failing to ensure safe drinking water in Flint.”

The task force noted that DEQ’s “substance and tone” of press releases and communication on the water crisis were one of the three failings in the Flint fiasco.

“Throughout 2015, as the public raised concerns and as independent studies and testing were conducted and brought to the attention of MDEQ, the agency’s response was often one of aggressive dismissal, belittlement, and attempts to discredit these efforts and the individuals involved,” the task force’s letter noted. “We find both the tone and substance of many MDEQ public statements to be completely unacceptable.”

Wurfel and his communication team ruffled feathers in October — following Snyder and the department’s final acknowledgement of the damage that had been done in Flint — when he released a branding proposal request for the department. The request offered a company or individual $100,000 to help DEQ rebrand itself following Wyant’s acknowledgement that for 17 months DEQ was using the wrong federal requirements to assess Flint’s water.

While the marketing request was eventually shelved — after it made the rounds in the daily news cycle — the fact that this is where the department’s head was at was somewhat chilling.

While Wurfel and Wyant’s departures may feel like a move towards accountability. Not all feel the blame is hitting its true target. Snyder’s task force found DEQ “primarily responsible” for the issues in Flint, however, it’s hard to imagine Snyder was completely out of the loop for all this — especially when we considering the fact that Wurfel of MDEQ is married to Snyder’s former spokesperson Sara Wurfel. Some of you may know her — and her knowledge of Flint’s water crisis —  from the ACLU of Michigan’s October video “Circle of Lies” in which she told journalists Curt Guyette and Kate Levy that “the Detroit Water and Sewer Department at the time back last spring said ‘Hey, we’re going to cut you off.'”

As we now know, Detroit never said this. In fact in February 2014 it offered Flint the opportunity to continue purchasing water from DWSD.

It’s fun to imagine what the Wurfel family spoke about over dinner

Source: MDEQ spokesperson Brad Wurfel resigns too | Blogs | Detroit Metro Times

Here Comes Cliven Bundy Again To Protect Your 2nd-Amendment Rights.

You may recall back in 2014 that Arizona rancher Cliven Bundy briefly became the darling of the Conservative movement when a long-standing dispute with the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) spilled over into an armed, but ultimately non-violent confrontation between Bundy’s supporters and the federal law enforcement crowd.  Bundy was on his way to becoming the poster-boy for the Right until he uttered a series of racist comments (“let me tell you about your Negro”) that got him condemned by Fox News and that was the end of that.

2A              Now he’s back in the public eye again because… (follow the link below to read the rest of the blog post)

Source: Here Comes Cliven Bundy Again To Protect Your 2nd-Amendment Rights.