On Tuesday April 19th, I woke to find the following press release in my inbox.
Las Vegas, NV (April 18th, 2016) – ACT, (the other test maker) has decided to partner with Kaplan Test Prep to offer free standardized test prep, in a new effort to emphasize the ineffectuality of standardized tests. This new state of the art online testing program will be at least partially live (Take that KHAN ACADEMY with your pre-recorded doodles). Though it’s not entirely free to all students, Kaplan promises to provide lots of free test prep to low-income students to help dial down the reality that it is a for-profit company making bank on this new partnership. With this new program, Kaplan promises to utilize the same top-notch online portal used for classes at Kaplan University. (Ranked 137th Best Online College and ranked equally with the notable Oral Roberts University.)
This new program entitled: Kaplan Online Program Outreach for Underserved Tutorials (or simply KOPOUT) features lessons from seasoned Master Ninjas who no longer need silly things like textbooks to cover the material that isn’t showing up in high school this year.
“We know that helping kids help understand the help they need should not go unhelped,” says ACT COO, Kyle Ren. “After all, we think it’s beneficial to work with test prep companies, as they’ve made it their business to recognize the flaws we’ve created. It’s like, you know when like the Terminator came back and he was like, I’m not here to kill you like I’m here to help save your kid from the shiny new guy who wants to kill you. And he can like mold himself into anything at all, and that’s like, useful and stuff. So we’ve got the Terminator on our side. Or are we the Terminator? I don’t know. I guess one of us is the Terminator.”
KOPOUT also includes the following features:
- An online platform with prerecorded lessons over the backdrop of a 1980’s yearbook setting.
- Sciencey science for the Science section discussing the charts and graphs and other things ACT takes for college level Science.
- Real ACT questions which are totally different from the ones you’d find in the book they’re about to publish for more money.
- A social network of like-minded kids using the service as an excuse for learning instead of snap chatting nasty comments to their ex-girlfriend.
You may have figured out by now that this isn’t an official press release but was instead a hysterical bit of sarcasm/snark/observation by a friend of mine and fellow test prep wonk. I think this highlights many of the issues one might have with the partnership between a test prep company and a titular non-profit such as ACT. This partnership will be something interesting to watch develop. I hope it results in what they claim it will, but alas 25 years in test prep and admission testing has made me fairly cynical.
Here are a few more serious stories about the deal:
- Eric Hoover in The Chronicle of Higher Education asks some of the questions we should about this deal.
- Catherine Gerwitz of EdWeek posts College Board’s angry retort.