Thursday, March 24, 2011

Standardized Testing = Big $ money $

sETS (Educational Testing Service) created and manages the GRE, SAT, and other college-entrance exams. In addition, they create/manage AP (Advanced Placement) exams, CAHSEE (California's exit exam), the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress), and the CST/STAR (California Standardized Test) to name but a few. They are not a monopoly but do have quite the market share in educational assessments.

ETS was funded with an initial endowment of $750,000 from the Carnegie Corporation in 1946 by Harvard grad Henry Chauncey. He had pondered upon the SAT, an "obscure mutation" of the IQ test, and tweaked it to focus on math and English. WWII helped bring the SAT to the forefront; a dire need to identify good officers quickly existed and Chauncey was hired to give the SAT to 300,000 people in just one day to help select the officers. Such a feat meant other insititutions (i.e. schools) could do the same thing. Chauncey left Harvard in 1945 to create ETS. He had a pet project that never was implemented due to a fatalistic perspective; a "censu of abilities" to be given twice yearly to all high-schoolers to identify what their future careers and direction of life should be.

So of course with NCLB and Race To The Top, both very test-friendly authorizations, ETS by default has something to gain. Money drives NCLB and RTTT and while the classroom may not see these funds, ETS sure does to the tune of, well, a lot. Different sources cite different amouns but all are quite exhorbitant, $490 million in 1998 ( or, $620 million in 2003 ( or $1 billion in 2006 ( or $94 million in 2007(
retty good for a non-profit, tax-exempt company, right? Their CEO, Kurt Landgraf (google his name + business week for some good info), made just a bit shy of $1 million that year. In 2004, Mr. Landgraf, earned $1.07 million and three vice presidents each earned over half a million. Sixteen ETS Vice Presidents and other corporate officers had total compensation of more than $200,000 with several topping the $300,000/year level. Even Trustees of the ETS Board shared in the largesse: several received more than $30,000 for attending a few meetings.(

An interesting "google quest" is the lawsuits against ETS. One of interest I found which also shows how much the Dept. of Ed spent for ETS services is at

With such nice profits, ETS will certainly influence the educational "powers that be" to maintain if not increase the amount of standardized testing.

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