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College Board to Pay Penalty and Stop Monetizing New York Students’ Data *Centurion Insurance AFS*

Feb 14, 2024 (0) comment , , , , , , , , , , ,

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College Board, which administers standard educational tests that are used as part of college admissions, has agreed to a $750,000 settlement with New York state for violating students’ privacy and unlawfully selling their personal data.

As a result of the agreement, College Board must pay $750,000 in penalties and will be prohibited from monetizing New York students’ data that it acquires through its contracts with New York schools and school districts. This includes data obtained from administering its Preliminary Student Achievement Test (PSAT), Student Achievement Test (SAT), or Advanced Placement (AP) exams during the school day.

For years, College Board collected students’ personal information when they took the PSAT, SAT, and AP exams in school, and then licensed this data to colleges, scholarship programs, and other customers who used it to solicit students to participate in their programs. In 2019 alone, College Board improperly licensed the information of more than 237,000 New York students who took their exams, according to the state’s charges.

In addition, the state says College Board improperly sent promotional materials to students who signed up for College Board accounts in connection with exams or AP courses.

Under New York law, it is illegal to use student data obtained under a contract with a New York educational agency for commercial or marketing purposes.

“Students have more than enough to be stressed about when they take college entrance exams, and shouldn’t have to worry about their personal information being bought and sold,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James.

In the past five years, a state review found that approximately 20 New York schools or school districts operating more than 500 high schools entered into contracts with College Board to offer the PSAT and SAT exams. Schools also signed agreements with College Board to offer AP courses and exams.

An investigation led by the the state attorney general revealed that prior to June 2022, College Board solicited students to provide information, such as their grade point average, anticipated course of study, interest in a religiously affiliated college and religious activities, and parents’ level of income, during the administration of PSAT, SAT, and AP exams, as well as when students signed up for a College Board online account. Although providing this data was optional, students were solicited to participate in the urgent context of an important exam and were encouraged to sign up because it would connect them with scholarship and college opportunities.

The investigation showed that from 2018-2022, College Board licensed New York student data to more than 1,000 institutions and received revenue from data related to New York students who took PSAT, SAT, or AP exams during the school day.

College Board runs what is calls the Student Search Service, a business through which colleges, universities, scholarship programs, and nonprofit educational institutions may request names and contact information for high school students that meet selected criteria based on the students’ personal characteristics. College Board earned approximately $75 million in revenues from Search in 2021, about $5 million of that in New York.

The investigation further found that College Board improperly used student data for its own marketing.

College Board neither admits nor denies the state’s findings.

Topics
New York
Education
Universities

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