Wednesday, February 10, 2016

College Board's Real Business

Here's the morning's promoted tweet from the College Board

That link takes you to the College Board page tagged with "Transformed Services for Smart Recruiting." Here you can find all sorts of useful headings like

Student Search Service (registered trademark)

Connect with students and meet recruitment goals using precise, deep data from the largest and richest database of college-bound students in the nation.

Enrollment Planning Service (trademark)

 Achieve your enrollment goals with powerful data analysis tools that efficiently facilitate exploration of the student population and inform a smarter recruitment plan.

Segment Analysis Service (trademark)

 Leverage sophisticated geographic, attitudinal and behavioral information to focus your enrollment efforts and achieve better yields from admission through graduation.

That last one, with its ability to leverage attitudinal and behavioral data-- how the heck do they do that? Exactly what is in the big fat College Board data base.
There's a phone number for customers to call, and of course, "customers" does not mean "students and their families." It means all the nice people who keep the College Board in business by paying for the data that they've mined from their testing products. Those folks can click over to the College Board Search Support page to learn that every high school student who ever took a College Board test product (PSAT, SAT, AP exam, or any of the many new SAT products) is in the database.

I don't know that the data miners at the College Board are any more nefarious than those at Facebook or a television network. Though those at least give the datamined subjects a free "product" to play with-- the College Board manages to mine students for data and get them to pay for the privilege.

But so many people think of the College Board and its test products as some sort of public service or educational necessity. It would be useful if we could all remember who they really are, what they really do, and how they make their money.

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