Gaston Caperton on the Role of the College Board
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 collegeboard.com, the nation's predominant comprehensive Web site serving nearly 4 million students a year as they plan their paths to college.
Caperton: I think what we have done at the College Board, if I could explain just a minute about what the College Board is, because people are somewhat kind of confused about what we are. What we are is, first, is that we’re an organization that is preparing kids to go to college. We have this, we have standards of what you need to go to college and be successful. We have curriculum from the 6th grade to the 12th grade in Math and English. We have the AP program, which is 37 subjects, so we have a standard, you know, standards, and we have programs that allow, that we prepare kids to go to college. So, we used to be just individual programs. Now, we’re a system of programs that we can prove that we can really improve performance significantly in either a state or at the school district or in a school. So, that’s part of what we do. The second part is how do you affect the admissions process. So, not only do we provide the SAT to colleges and schools and students, but we also do a lot on financial aid, we do a lot of admissions. Part of that’s training, some of that’s programs to help administer it. And the third thing is we have a program of innovation and research. That’s the newest part of the College Board, begun about three years ago. We do studies on how you can improve community colleges, how you can improve writing, how you can improve the process of getting more students prepared and ready to go to college. So, those are the three parts of the College Board, and I think that Time Magazine says what they did, it shows that we’re trying to make an impact, a substantial impact from preparing kids to go to college to the process of entering college and then looking for ways that we can improve the whole system by innovation and research.
Question: What have you achieved with collegeboard.com?
Caperton: Collegeboard.com was really begun really at the sort of the hype of the internet, back about, almost… it has been almost 9 years ago. And I wanted to, when I came to the College Board, one of the first things I did was to create collegeboard.com because I wanted us to be on the cutting edge, and it’s been a really critical part of the growth and expansion of the College Board. When I went to the College Board, we had about 400 employees. We now have about 1200 employees. We’ve almost tripled what we do today from what we did, and part of that was because we had the ability to communicate to kids, the students, through the internet system. So, I think it’s been a very important part. It’s something that we continue to upgrade. It’s a good service for parents and students to better, to sign up, to get information. It will become a bigger and more important thing for teachers to get information and other educators to get information. So, I think it’s highly used. I think it’s probably, by far, the busiest education website in the country, and it’s given us a chance to speak to students, parents and teachers and educators in a much more effective way than we could have if we hadn’t had it.
Gaston Caperton explains the role of the nation’s entryway to college.
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