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June 15, 1979 - Image 14

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1979-06-15

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Page 14-Friday, June 15, 1979-The Michigan Daily
Private coaching schools could boost test scores

v

(ContinuedfromPage3)
(FTC) in 1976 to conduct an in-
vestigation through its Boston office to
determine whether various coaching
schools were engaged in deceptive ad-
vertising practices. Released several
weeks ago, the report suggests
coaching may help certain students
improve their scores on the SAT
(Scholastic Aptitude Test).
"Analysis reveals that there is a
statistically significant difference bet-
ween the score increases obtained by
coached and uncoached in-
dividuals ... (the existence of a)
coaching school that can materially in-
crease individuals' scores reveals the
lack of reliability and validity of these
examinations," states the report.
FTC staff members have cautioned
that the report contains "several major
flaws in the data analysis" which make
its results unreliable. They also said the
FTC does not endorse the conclusions
the Boston staff reached in the report.
NEVERTHELESS, the report has in-
creased the National Education
Association's (NEA) concern over what
NEA Executive Director Terry Her-
ndon has called the "powerful but un-
checked testing industry." NEA
spokesperson Rozanne Weissman said
"there probably should be" a thorough
investigation of testing agencies.
Stanley Kaplan, founder of the
Kaplan Educational Centers, said he
disagrees with the NEA's belief that
tests lose their validity because they
are coachable. "The test still has its
validity," he said. "Aptitude is not an
innate ability," he added, saying tests
like the SAT simply measure skills and
logical thinking ability.
"If we improve those skills, we im-

prove those students," he said. "My
kind of program produces not just bet-
ter scores, but better students."
SOME UNIVERSITY students who
have taken Kaplan's courses in Ann
Arbor said the courses can be rigorous
if a student does all the homework in-
volved. Courses to prepare for most
tests include a four-hour lesson once a
week for two months, as well as special
lessons on tape and an abundance of
home study material.
Many students said the courses are
beneficial because they force students
to organize their study habits in a
disciplined manner.
"I probably could have gotten the
same sort of preparation on my own,"
said LSA Junior Doug Simon, who is
currently enrolled in Stanley Kaplan's
LSAT preparation course. He added,
however, that he probably would not
have spent as much time on review
without the course.
A STUDENT who preferred to
remain unidentified said she was angry
because she felt 'forced' to take a
Kaplan course. She said while she
really could not afford the $275 for the
course, she could see no alternative to
taking it because she knew she needed
the review.
"Basically, what I heard is that if you
want to be on equal footing, you should
take one of the courses," said Simon.
Alan Jacknow, LSA junior and
graduate of Kaplan's MCAT (Medical
College Admissions Test) preparation
course, agreed and said, "It's so com-
petitive. You can't afford not to take
it."
COACHING SCHOOLS sometimes
deal in rather shady practices such as
hiring students to take tests and

memorize questions for the company,
according to the FTC report.
Jacknow said there were questions on
Kaplan's MCAT sample test "that I
swear were on the Med CAT." He added
that his teacher in the course told the
class that one year an entire reading
section from the MCAT had appeared
on a Kaplan sample test.
"That's actually impossible," said
Kaplan, who staunchly defended his
center's tests. He said sample tests are
"entirely different but the same," as
actual tests, explaining "the concepts
are the same, but the questions are dif-
ferent." Because "zero per cent" of the
questions on the MCAT are repeats,
there is no way the agency could gain
access to questions, he said.
"WE HAVE never sent in students to
take the test (and memorize answers
for the company)" said Kaplan. "In no
way have we ever used questions (that
would be on the test) because we don't
have access to them."
One of the complaints registered on
the FTC report and by the NEA is that
coaching schools discriminate against
students who cannot afford the tuition,
and consequently receive lower scores
than wealthier test applicants.
"We have never turned down anyone
who doesn't have the ability to pay,"
said Kaplan. He said he sends letters to
every college counselor asking for
names of qualified students who cannot
afford to pay for his service. These

students are then given full scholar-
shipsto Kaplan Centers.
KAPLAN SAID he does not advertise
this practice because too many studen-
ts would claim they could not pay the
required fee.
University counselors said they do
not recommend a student take a
preparation course for an admissions
test. "Our position on commercial
courses is pretty much hands-off," said
pre-professional Louis Rice, who added
that while students are not encouraged
to take commercial courses, the infor-
mation is provided if they request it.
ALTHOUGH college admissions staff
members are supposed to treat scores
as broad indicaters, according to the
FTC report, many schools establish
rigid guidelines and minimum cutoff
points for test scores.
University admissions counselors
said scores on tests like the SAT and
LSAT are good instruments for admit-
ting students, but should be used
properly.
Cliff Sjogren, University Director of
Undergraduate Admissions, said
schools with high minimum cutoffs, in-
cluding many in the east, abuse the
SAT. "We have a lot of range," he said.
"We're satisfied that it is a good
reliable instrument if used properly.
We are also convinced that it is misused
a lot. (But) we're convinced we use it
right," he added.

'Black English' ease heard

Ulrich's announces
the arrival of the

(Continued from Page3)
Weaver, who said it is "rather dif-
ficult to impossible" to demonstrate the
presence of a language barrier, said the
Ann Arbor Board of Education is
"probably doing anything the plaintiffs
say it ought to do."
"My personal opinion is it (the suit) is
simply a worthless claim," he said.
"Yesterday the children were
examined - it is quite clear the
children were understandable."
Weaver said one child, Tito Brenan was
at the top of his first grade class.
BUT KAMOWITZ said the boy is not
actually number one in his class, but
rather only said he was. When one of
these children brings home a "good"
report card, said Kamowitz, he is only
"doing well for the level of expectan-
cy."
Kamowitz said the Board of
Education, which is "denying
educational opportunity because of low

income," is in violation of the Fourteen-
th Amendment.
The case is being tried in a number of
different ways. Wednesday the children
testified before the court, and Mondaya
linguist will analyze tapes of the
childrens' speech.
According to Weaver the plaintiffs
must prove four things: a language
barrier must be found, this barrier
must be proven to "impede the par-
ticipation of the plaintiffs in school
programs," it must be proven the
Board has failed to take action to
reduce the language barrier, and it
must be found that the "failure to take
action was because of race."
Weaver said the plaintiffs still have
nine witnesses they wish to question,
including Professor Richard Bailey
from the University's English Depar-
tment, who is a language consultant for
the children's lawyer.

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