College Board Lawsuit Questions Its Influence

College Board Lawsuit Questions Its Influence

By Associate Online Editor In Chief Olivia Kim

Over two million students in the US will sit down in the spring to take the SAT. In addition to the standardized test, students will also be presented with a questionnaire inquiring about the student’s grades, interests, planned college major, and “other things”, according to The College Board’s website. 

From this survey, data is collected and shared with universities and colleges that pay the licensing fee to access that data. On December 8, 2019, a Chicago Public School student filed a lawsuit against The College Board. According to WTTW, “among the 11 counts included alleged in the complaint are violations of Illinois School Student Records Act, the Right of Publicity Act and the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.”

“I think it’s good to call out the major testing agency that basically has a monopoly,”

college and career counselor Diane Bourn said. 

Bourn believes that the right to share data belongs to each individual. While The College Board claims that that students have the right to refrain from taking in the survey, Bourn explains that the “shady practice” of it is that “it’s so easy to just keep filling out the bubbles without thinking too much about it.” She thinks that it would be beneficial to make it another step in the process if you want to take part in the survey. 

Junior Olivia Sibu is doesn’t mind that The College Board shares her survey data with universities and colleges because she figures that the type of personal information put down on the survey is already accessible to colleges through social media.

Bourn’s fear in this situation is that “[The College Board] is constantly pulling data [from students],” Bourn said. “But we also know that if data is collected by one company, they can get statistics that can totally make them look good.”

And if this practice continues, then it could make colleges use standardized tests as a way to decide whether a student can succeed in that school, even though, according to Bourn, is showing to not be a great detector of a student’s success in college.  

So the power of The College Board is put into question in Bourn and Sibu’s minds. 

“While I think it’s good that [testing is through one company] because you’re not confused going through different websites,” Sibu said. “But I also feel like one website controlling all of that [testing and data] could kind of be bad. They have so much control over your standardized testing, and standardized testing plays such a big part in people’s futures, so they control millions of students’ futures.”

Some opposers to this practice, such as Leonie Haimson of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, believes that the reasoning for colleges to use this data is wrong. 

“Colleges are buying this data not so much to actually find students who would be a good fit for their schools but in order to encourage more students to apply so they can boost their rejection rates and increase their selectivity which improves their ratings,” Haimson said in an interview with CBS New York. 

Even though change may not come quickly, Bourn still hopes for the best.

“I think a lot is going to be happening as a result of some of these lawsuits in the coming years,” Bourn said. 

(photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)