Friday, November 11, 2005
Teacher Watch: ETS Monopoly Continues
Educational Testing Service (ETS)--famed (or notorious?) publisher of the AP, SAT, LSAT, GRE, TOEFL, GMAT and most recently the HSEE--has again been granted an exclusive contract to administer the "mammoth" testing program for California students, grades 2-11, through 2008-09. According to ETS estimates, the contract is worth $170 million. The final price has yet to be negotiated.
Keep in mind that ETS maintains not-for-profit status under section 501(c)(3) of the tax code. This means two things: ETS pays zero federal income tax and does not have to report any of its financial information to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The fact that ETS vies for public tax dollars makes no difference.
John Oswald, former president of the Association of Test Publishers and senior VP of ETS Elementary and Secondary Education, is reportedly "gratified" to see the state board reward ETS's performance since 2002-03. Interestingly, Oswald has been fairly open about ETS's essential monopoly: "This might sound a little silly, but I don't really think that we have competitors... We really do approach the market from a very different standpoint. We want to work with states that will use assessments to make teaching more effective, that will invest in professional development programs, and that are serious about curriculum reform. Our trustees have made that a matter of policy."
One of Oswald's ETS colleagues, President and CEO Kurt Landgraf, has clarified the corporation's attitude towards (public) money: "[ETS] will never be the low-cost bidder on a contract." Landgraf has also quipped, "I would really be happy if people didn't know what the 'T' meant in 'ETS'. I think of this as an educational-solutions company."
Read the full article about Thursday's new contract award in the Los Angeles Times California section.
Click links for more about ETS, John Oswald and Kurt Langdraf (as sources for above quotes). Ironically, the first appears on a website run by ETS sometimes-competitor Thomson Prometric. The other appears on the site of Stanford University of Education.