Taking the $ATs

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chadwick Matlin talks about his commentary on the corporate qualities of the nonprofit College Board, which made over $55 million in surplus revenue in 2006. He's the staff writer for, a business site from The Slate Group.


Chadwick Matlin

Comments [24]

A. M.

Well, at least you learned something from your special education-- that it's all about you, Donna from New York!

May. 20 2009 05:27 PM
Donna from New York

As someone who had also scored 99th percentile on the Stanford-Binet in the 6th grade (like one of today's callers), I couldn't resist posting.

I was a few weeks into seventh grade when I was summoned to the Mineola Junior High guidance office over the PA system. When I went into guidance, my mother was already there. I could see that she had been crying. The guidance counselor said not to worry; it was good news.

The counselor said test scores had come in and pulled out a bell curve diagram, saying I was way over to the right, 99th percentile. She added that I could be anything I wanted in life, even a rocket scientist (which made my mother cry even more. Years later she would say it was because she had thought it made me weird and no one would marry me).

That day I was taken out of my classes and put in all advanced classes (even though I was a straight A handraiser throughout elementary school, I had been placed in all average classes in junior high...a few years later a high school guidance counselor would tell me it was because I lived over my father's bar).

I must say there were personal benefits to my Stanford-Binet score. Without it I never would have gone to schools like William & Mary and Columbia and had all sorts of opportunities.

However, in terms of whether this testing benefits society overall, I ended up becoming a freelance writer as opposed to taking over my father's bar. So this remains to be seen.

May. 20 2009 03:01 PM

I agree that Chadwick Matlin seems to have garbled some of the information he was reporting on. His statements about ETS (referenced by other commenters above) were particularly egregiously wrong, and there's no excuse for that. I see a pattern here of hasty reportage and commentary. If you're going to presume to report on and/or assess a situation or a comment, you should make sure that you have your facts and your reasoning straight!


May. 20 2009 12:08 PM

Karen from Westchester,

Hmmm... Mr. CM seems to have had a number of points, not one main point, and his characterization of CB/ETS clearly formed a key part of what he purported to be reporting on. Why do you feel you need to police the comments here? Do you work for WNYC or for Mr. CM?

May. 20 2009 12:01 PM
KL from Princeton

Hi Karen from Westchester:

Thanks for your comment, but I'm not interested in what Mr. Matlin might designate as his "main point," assuming he has one (doubtful). At any rate, no main point Mr. Matlin might have in mind can be relied upon logically or factually by the listener/reader if he can't get his facts straight. My intent wasn't to address a so-called "main point" of any kind whatever definition is assigned to such a phrase. If I were to focus only on what we might imagine is such a reporter's "main point," it wouldn't be possible to gain much critical or analytical perspective on what he's saying! Thanks for the assessment, though...Cheers,


May. 20 2009 11:49 AM
Jennie from New Jersey

My sister in Dallas tells mr that her 7th grade daughters are being encouraged to take the SAT for practice! They have not learned what they will be tested on. I think it is the CollegeBiard playing on parent's fears and opting a new market for their tests!

May. 20 2009 11:45 AM
jade from ny

1) I'm all for testing. As a kid it *did* make a difference to me to learn that I was in the 99th percentile. It allowed me to go to a much better school, where I flourished. I'd have been beaten up and my life would've been wasted in my local school.

2) They make a *lot* of money from occupational testing. e.g. for Physical Therapists, etc. It's not just kids

May. 20 2009 11:44 AM
Molly from New York

In my early elementary years, I had many standardized tests. I LOVED them, because we did cool things! Especially in the science tests, where we experimented with magnets, electricity, and water. They were the only time we did hands on work in school.

May. 20 2009 11:43 AM
Dan from Upper West SIde

I have a three questions:

a) Who writes the questions for the SAT, and other tests? I have been told that ETS writes the questions for the SAT.

b) I am surprised to hear that School Districts purchase SAT tests for their students; I (perhaps naively) thought that the SAT was purchased by each student and that, therefore, everyone paid the same fee--though some received income based fee waivers.

c) If it is true that the College Board sells the SAT, and perhaps other tests, in bulk I would expect to see a variety of SAT pricing schemes, including various membership organizations offering discounted SAT's--say student unions offering discounted tests and even the test prep companies (do test prep with us and get a discount on the test)


May. 20 2009 11:43 AM
JH from Princeton

"That's an educational question which I'm happy to opine on"? Diction anyone?

May. 20 2009 11:41 AM
Karen from Westchester

KL from NYC
I don't think the main point of his critique is about ETS, it's more pointed toward the College Board. I can understand however why you'd be scoring his factual accuracy.

May. 20 2009 11:40 AM
D.L. from Fort Greene

These tests are too expensive. Additionally prep classes have become a necessity to do well on these standardized tests, creating a divide between economic class and standardized test scores.

May. 20 2009 11:40 AM
ag from Manhattan

I took the SATs and ACTs, no coaching, probably in the 99th percentile on each. All of that's pretty much meaningless— sure I'm good at school, but those tests don't show work ethic or interest or any of those other things that seem to map much more to the success of my college peers and I.

May. 20 2009 11:40 AM
Andy from Rockland

The college board just changed their SAT rules. Now you can choose which SAT's you want sent to colleges (instead of all of them being sent). This will cause students to start taking SAT's in 3rd grade because they don't have to be sent. Also competition with ACT.

May. 20 2009 11:40 AM
Karen from Westchester

how do people accepting 600 something thousand in salary in these times sleep at night?
Probably very well.

May. 20 2009 11:39 AM
KL from NYC

I worked with ETS for many years. It is inaccurate to describe ETS as an organization that only administers and scores the SAT's. ETS DESIGNS and DEVELOPS many tests and many components of tests, in addition to administering and scoring them, including the reading and writing portions of the SAT and GRE. ETS also has research and statistical departments that explore the development of new testing measures and assess the performance of existing measures, respectively.

Your reporter needs to do his homework. His description of basic components of the situation he's reporting on are flatly wrong, and that's inexcusable.

May. 20 2009 11:36 AM
Viktoria from New York

I managed to beat the system, sort of. No APs, no PSATs, no Kaplan or Princeton, and I only took the SAT once. I still got into a great program in great school, with a full scholarship.

Also, I think students need to know that there is life beyond the evil SATs.

May. 20 2009 11:36 AM
Karen from Westchester

If the school districts are paying for the College Board's income, then I am paying a lot more to live in Edgemont in Westchester than just what I paid for my kids' tests!

May. 20 2009 11:36 AM
peter from crown heights

I know that the IRS is getting on higher educations that carry a huge endowment, such as institutions like Harvard or Penn, what is the College Board required to do with their money? Are they finding themselves under the same pressure?

May. 20 2009 11:35 AM
Rich from Union City

ETS was spun off from the College Board as a separate for-profit company in the late 1940s, so they could use their testing techniques in other areas, such as civil service exams. The College Board owns the PSAT, SAT, and AP, but ETS writes them under contract.

May. 20 2009 11:32 AM
Marty from Upper West Side

I have used the College Ed materials, also from the College Board, that helps prepare young people from 7th grade on, and their parents, to gain access into College.

It is not cheap! But is very effective.

May. 20 2009 11:29 AM
J. D. Crutchfield from Long Island City, Queens

Testing-industrial complex? It's the *testing industry*, not a complex between industry and testing, like the military-industrial complex. Please don't use nonsense terms just because they sound catchy. Thanks for your great show.


J. D. Crutchfield

May. 20 2009 11:06 AM
sr from NJ

I don't know about others, but my son gave 2 PSAT'S before taking extra coaching for SATs, and the fact is he is not a very self motivated person, who will actually sit and study/prepare for SAT. He improved his score by 200. his math score jumped from 710 to 790. and i am happy to spend the money. in the larger scheme of things this was a paltry sum, and we can afford it. his got 2100 in SAT.

May. 20 2009 11:03 AM

Sounds like *someone* needs an extra tax!

May. 20 2009 07:23 AM

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