Elizabeth Stone, San Francisco College Admissions Examiner and independent college consultant, unleashed a firestorm of controversy over the special administration of the SAT to an elite group of wealthy high school students participating in two exclusive summer camp programs located on the campus of Amherst College.
The cover was blown by FairTest on College Board plans to administer an unprecedented summer SAT to about 50 “gifted” and mostly wealthy students in a press release picked up by major news sources throughout the country.
Citing a complaint forwarded by Elizabeth Stone to the College Board, FairTest asked if a special August test date offered only to “an elite group of students” would be perceived as an unfair advantage in college admissions.
More importantly, Dr. Stone and FairTest wanted to know why a summer test would be made available only to “kids whose parents can pay close to $5000 in tuition and fees?”
In a response to inquiries from Inside Higher Ed, the College Board sidestepped larger questions and focused on the fact that the program was announced several months ago and should be viewed as a “pilot.”
“This program was announced publicly nearly two months ago,” said Matt Lisk, executive director of the SAT program. “In response to the man requests from students, parents, and educators to consider a summer SAT administration, the College Board will be conducting a pilot SAT administration in August 2012 to begin evaluating the feasibility of a summer administration.”
Recent calls to the College Board concerning the August test date have been met with confusion, as Customer Service telephone operators clearly haven’t been informed of the existence of the special program for "elite" kids.
Several days into the controversy, callers to the College Board “help” line were still being told that no August test date existed. On further probing, callers were sent to the NSGT University Prep website to register for the test.
When advised that registering for the SAT that way would cost nearly $5,000, the operator responded, “Well, there’s always the October test. It only costs $49.”