College Board Seeks to Suppress SAT Equity Charts; Lawyers' Letter Claims Copyright Control Over Data on Test's Bias

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Bob Schaefer (239) 395-6773
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for immediate release Wednesday, December 1, 2004

As students around the country prepare for Saturday's next-to-last administration of the SAT before a "new" test is implemented in March 2005, the exam's sponsor is trying to restrict publication of data about score differences between various racial, gender and income groups.

A letter from College Board lawyers to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) asserts that charts of SAT scores broken down by ethnicity, sex and family income cannot be posted on FairTest's website without the Board's explicit permission. The letter claims publication of the data, "significantly impacts the perceptions of students, parents, and educators regarding the services we provide."

FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer responded, "That is precisely our goal. Despite the Board's claim that the SAT is 'a level playing field,' the data clearly show large racial, gender and social class gaps. Why is the College Board not also threatening newspapers and research journals that use SAT scores to design their own charts?"

The College Board letter also instructed FairTest to stop publishing a similar chart with scores from the ACT, the nation's other major college admissions test. Schaeffer called that request "ludicrous," noting, "A rival company, not in any way associated, with the College Board produces the ACT."

For nearly twenty years, FairTest has distilled test-makers' annual college admissions score reports into charts demonstrating the exams' lack of equity. The SAT and ACT score charts are among the most frequently accessed items on FairTest's website, http://www.fairtest.org. Education reform and civil rights groups, policy makers, and the news media also reference them frequently.

"These charts reveal why reliance on SAT results in college admissions decisions undermines equity," Schaeffer explained. "The more test scores are used to cull applicant pools or award so-called 'merit' scholarships, the fewer underserved minorities, low-income students and women are allowed to enroll in higher education. No wonder the College Board wants to stop FairTest from publishing this information about the damage done by the SAT." }
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- a PDF Copy of the College Board letter threatening FairTest as well as FairTest's response and the challenged charts are available on-line at www.fairtest.org.