Gaston Caperton
President & CEO, The College Board

Gaston Caperton on Standardized Testing

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Gaston Caperton says the best preparation for the SAT involves doing your homework everyday.

Gaston Caperton

Gaston Caperton, a former two-term governor of West Virginia, is the eighth president of the College Board, a not-for-profit membership association founded in 1900 that consists of 5,000 of the nation's leading schools, colleges, and universities. Among its best-known programs are the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) and the SAT®.

Since his appointment in 1999, Caperton has transformed the College Board into a resolutely mission-driven, values-oriented organization that takes bold steps to connect greater numbers of students to college success and opportunity while raising educational standards. In his successful effort to expand equity within programs that foster academic excellence, he has more than doubled the size of the College Board's staff, modernized its management structure, and established, the nation's predominant comprehensive Web site serving nearly 4 million students a year as they plan their paths to college.


Question: Is the SAT an adequate measure of performance?

Caperton:    If you want to prepare for the SAT, the best way to prepare is to do your work everyday.  You don’t…  It isn’t…  It isn’t what you do in the senior year before you take the SAT or the junior before you take an SAT that you prepare for the SAT.  I mean, the Reading part of it, and the more you read, the better you do on it.  The Math part, the more you study Mathematics and work at Mathematics, the better you do on it.  I don't know how you can run an admissions process in the United States where the school have the choice of what students they invite to come to their schools.  Unless you have some sort of objective measurement, I don't think it should be the only measure, but you need some objective measurement because an A in one school certainly isn’t what an A is in another school, so if you just use grades, that’s not a good enough criteria.  Now, you have to look at what the student has done, the recommendations that they get from their teachers and their schools, but you’d need one objective test that allows you to see, with other students, what, how well a student has done on that test, and there’s obviously a correlation between how well a student does on an SAT and how well they’re prepared to go to college and succeed. 

Question: What changes would you like to see with the SAT?

Caperton:    Well, I think the one thing that I would say is I don’t want somebody just to rely on the SAT.  I want them, the more information they can get about a student, the more they understand the student body they want to have, the better it is.  I don't think this SAT is the beginning and end of the admissions process.  I just think it’s an important objective tool that statistically has proven to be very helpful in that admissions process and very much part of fairness.