Friday, February 22, 2008

College Board Sues Test Prep Company - Beware

Parents, teachers, test prep companies and standardized test tutors beware; the College Board is at it again. A recent CNN news article highlights an issue that many do not take seriously as they prepare for the dreaded standardized tests. Many kids either through a test prep company or through friends or otherwise, try to acquire past tests in order to get additional practice. Watch out! This can have dire consequences as the test prep company being sued by College Board has discovered.

The prep company in Dallas was sued for allegedly using the 2007 October PSAT test material as a part if its test prep curriculum. The PSAT or the Preliminary SAT is another of those dreaded standardized tests that so many kids have come to abhor. This test has two benefits though.

1. It is truly a practice test for the SAT reasoning test in that it incorporates actual past SAT questions and;

2. It allows kids to receive a scholarship if they perform at a certain level. In fact the test is actually known as the PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test).

In light of the second benefit some kids really do try to perform well on this test. Quite a few high school counselors encourage the students to take the test both in the October of their sophomore year and the October of their junior year so that they get double the practice The scores obtained in the junior year are the ones which are taken into consideration in deciding whether the student qualifies for National Merit Scholarship recognition. The maximum score in each of the three sections of the test is 80, so the maximum possible score is 240. There is a cutoff score in each state which is set each year and this determines whether a student will get recognition in the National Merit Scholar Program.

Now if you check the College Board website store you will notice that you can buy the most recent PSAT test booklets for $3.00. So some may be wondering, then what is the big deal? The fact of the matter is that even though you may buy the test, the material comprising the test is copyrighted and as such should not be reproduced, copied or replicated without permission of the owner, who in this case is College Board. It means that the widespread photocopying and distribution of standardized tests materials can lead to legal woes.

There is legal authority for the view that some copying and distribution of copyrighted material is allowed to a limited degree if the use of the material is fair. As to whether the use is fair depends on the particular circumstances. Once the use has a commercial characteristic however, it is hardly likely that it will be considered fair.

One might argue that since these tests are being sold by College Board, the questions would be of no future use. Tutors must remember however, that although College Board is a non-profit organization, it is also in the test prep business. It actually offers an official SAT online course for $69.95 so tutors and test prep companies College Board is your competitor. Once again BEWARE as not only could you face lawsuits but your students could experience the unfortunate embarrassment of having their scores cancelled by College Board.

Source: The Brand

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