California Taxpayers to Fund Test Coaching

University Testing

Unable to muster a majority to alter the University of California's heavily test-score-dependent admissions system, which resulted in huge declines in minority enrollment this year, the California legislature has appropriated $10 million over the next five years for SAT and ACT coaching courses aimed at low-income communities. Governor Pete Wilson, who threatened to veto legislation guaranteeing U.Cal. acceptance without regard to test scores for students at the top of their high school classes, signed the test preparation subsidy into law.


The new program allows up to $300 of taxpayer funds per test-taker to be spent on a 20-hour course. Students can be charged only $5 each. A school may offer courses taught by its own staff or hire outside vendors to lead the sessions.


Not surprisingly, commercial coaching companies are eager to enter this potentially lucrative market since they will not have to spend advertising money to attract students. One clear public benefit is a requirement for formal, independent evaluations of each program, data that test preparation firms rarely release.