Educational Testing Service
Educational Testing Service (ETS), founded in 1947, is the world's
largest private nonprofit educational testing and assessment
organization. It is headquartered in Lawrence Township, New Jersey,
but has a Princeton address.
ETS develops various standardized tests primarily in the United States
for K–12 and higher education, and it also administers international
tests including the
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language),
TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication), Graduate
Record Examination (GRE) General and Subject Tests, and The Praxis
test Series — in more than 180 countries, and at over 9,000
locations worldwide. Many of the assessments it develops are
associated with entry to US tertiary (undergraduate) and quaternary
education (graduate) institutions, but it also develops K–12
statewide assessments used for accountability testing in many states,
including California, Texas, Tennessee and Virginia. In total, ETS
annually administers 20 million exams in the U.S. and in 180 other
2 Scientific contributions
3 Current status
5 Tests administered
6 See also
8 Further reading
9 External links
ETS is a U.S.-registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created in
1947 by three other nonprofit educational institutions: the American
Education (ACE), The Carnegie Foundation for the
Advancement of Teaching, and The College Entrance Examination
Board. ETS was formed in 1947 to take over the testing activities
of its founders (whose organizations were not well suited to running
operational assessment programs), and to pursue research intended to
advance educational measurement and education. Among other
things, ACE gave to the new organization the Cooperative Test Service
and the National Teachers Examination; Carnegie gave the GRE; and the
College Board turned over to ETS the operation (but not ownership) of
SAT for graduating high school students.
In keeping with the purposes for which it was established, ETS
developed a program of research that covered not only measurement and
education but also such related areas as statistics, educational
evaluation, and psychology, particularly cognitive, developmental,
personality, and social psychology. This broad-based research program
attracted many individuals who distinguished themselves in their
fields, often while at ETS but also in subsequent professorial
positions. Among the more influential scientists have been Harold
Gulliksen (whose book, "Theory of Mental Tests," helped codify
classical test theory); Frederic Lord (Item Response Theory);
Samuel Messick, (modern validity theory); Robert Linn (known for
testing and educational policy); Norman Frederiksen (performance
assessment); Ledyard Tucker (test analysis, including inventing the
"Angoff Method" of standard setting);
Donald Rubin (missing data and
causal modeling from observational data); Karl Jöreskog (structural
equation modeling and confirmatory factor analysis); Paul Holland
(differential item functioning, test equating, causal modeling); John
Carroll (language testing and cognitive psychology); Michael Lewis
(infant cognitive, social, and emotional development); Irving Sigel
(children's cognitive development);
Herman Witkin (cognitive and
K. Patricia Cross (adult education); Samuel Ball (an
evaluation researcher who documented the positive educational effects
of Sesame Street); and
David Rosenhan (known for the Rosenhan
experiment, which challenged the validity of psychiatric diagnosis).
Members of the ETS staff have been among the presidents of the
National Council on Measurement in
Education (NCME); the Psychometric
Society; the Measurement and Evaluation Division of the American
Educational Research Association (AERA); the Evaluation, Measurement
Statistics Division of the American Psychological Association
(APA); the APA Developmental Psychology Division; and the Jean Piaget
Society. They have been among the executive editors of the Journal of
Educational Measurement, Journal of Educational and Behavioral
Statistics, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Journal of
Educational Psychology, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology,
and Discourse Processes. Major citations have included the APA
Distinguished Contributions to Knowledge Award (Norman Frederiksen,
1984), the APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award (Frederic
Lord, 1988); the AERA E.F. Lindquist Award (William Turnbull, 1981;
Frederic Lord, 1988; Samuel Messick, 1994; Paul Holland, 2000; Wendy
Yen, 2008); the NCME Career Contributions to Educational Measurement
Award (Frederic Lord, 1990; Paul Holland, 2004; Neil Dorans, 2010);
and the Jean Piaget Society's Lifetime Achievement Award (Irving
Sigel, 2002); among many other awards.
The high caliber of scientific staff allowed ETS to produce both new
knowledge and methodology, especially in measurement and statistics,
much of which has been taken up by assessment organizations around the
world. Among the key scientific contributions were:
co-invention of item response theory, an integrated framework for
asking and answering a variety of practical problems related to the
design and analysis of tests;
creation of an approach and software for structural equation modeling
and confirmatory factor analysis (LISREL), used throughout the social
sciences to test theoretical relationships among variables;
seminal contributions to modern validity theory, including the idea
that validity was a unitary concept and that the evaluation of score
meaning requires consideration of the consequences of test use as
those consequences may imply functional problems with the test;
development of widely used approaches to data analysis when there are
generation of approaches to causal modeling from observational
invention of the In-Basket Test (used throughout the world to assess
applicants for managerial jobs in a wide variety of industries);
development of methods for detecting test unfairness, including
invention of the Standardization approach to Differential Item
Functioning (DIF) and application of the Mantel-Haenszel method;
creation of the holistic-scoring approach to writing assessment, a
means of rapidly and reliably judging the quality of essay text, which
allowed direct writing assessment to become a more affordable
alternative to multiple-choice questions for large-scale testing
ETS' international headquarters is located on an 376-acre
(1.52 km2) campus outside of
Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton, New Jersey in Lawrence
Township, Mercer County, New Jersey; processing, shipping,
customer service and test security is in nearby Ewing, New Jersey. ETS
also has a major office in San Antonio, TX, which houses its K–12
Assessment Programs division, and smaller offices in Philadelphia, PA,
Washington, DC, Hato Rey, PR, and Concord, Sacramento, and Monterey,
CA. Overseas office locations, all of which are associated with
for-profit subsidiaries that are wholly owned by ETS, include
Amsterdam (ETS Global BV headquarters), London (ETS Global BV), Seoul
(ETS Global BV), Paris (ETS Global BV), Amman (ETS Global BV), Warsaw
(ETS Global BV), Beijing (ETS China), and Kingston, Ontario (ETS
Canada). Not including its for-profit subsidiaries, ETS employs about
2,700 individuals, including 240 with doctorates and an additional
350 others with "higher degrees."
To help support its nonprofit educational mission, ETS, like many
other nonprofits, conducts business activities that are unrelated to
that mission (e.g., employment testing). Under US tax law, these
activities may be conducted (within limits) by the nonprofit itself,
or by for-profit subsidiaries. Most of the "off-mission" work
conducted by ETS is carried out by such wholly owned, for-profit
subsidiaries as Prometric, which delivers tests for hundreds of
third-party clients, ETS Global BV, which contains much of the
international operations of the company, ETS China, and ETS Canada.
About 25% of the work carried out by ETS is contracted by the College
Board, a private, nonprofit membership association of universities,
colleges, school districts, and secondary schools. The most popular of
the College Board's tests is the SAT, taken by more than 3 million
students annually. ETS also develops and administers The College
Board's Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test
(PSAT/NMSQT) and the
Advanced Placement program, which is widely used
in US high schools for advanced course credit.
Since 1983, ETS has conducted the National Assessment of Educational
Progress (NAEP), known as the "Nation's Report Card," under contract
to the US National Center for
Education Statistics. NAEP is the only
nationally representative and continuing assessment of what US
students know and can do. ETS is responsible for coordination among
the nine NAEP Alliance contractors, for item development, and for
design, data analysis, and reporting.
In addition to the contract work that ETS undertakes for nonprofit and
government entities like the College Board, the National Center for
Education Statistics, and state education departments, the
organization offers its own tests. These tests include the Graduate
Record Examinations (GRE) (for graduate and professional school
admissions), the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) (for
post-secondary admissions), the Test of English for International
Communication (TOEIC) (for use by business and industry), and the
Praxis Series (for teacher licensure and certification).
In England and Wales ETS Europe, a unit of the ETS Global for-profit
subsidiary, was contracted to mark and process the National Curriculum
assessments on behalf of the government. ETS Global took over this
role in 2008 from Edexcel, a subsidiary of Pearson, which had
encountered significant and repeated problems in carrying out the
marking and processing contract. As was the case for
Edexcel, The first year of ETS Global's operation was struck by a
number of problems, including the late arrival of scripts to
examiners, a database of student entries being unavailable, and
countrywide reports of problems with the marking of the papers. The
opposition Conservative party criticized the awarding of the contracts
to ETS, and produced a dossier listing previous problems with ETS's
service. The ETS contract with the QCA was terminated in August
2008, with an agreement to pay back £19.5m and cancel invoices worth
£4.6m. Subsequently, the contract for National Curriculum
assessment marking and processing was again awarded to Edexcel. Like
the two prior contracts, the
Edexcel contract has encountered
significant quality problems and the tests themselves, the focus
of longstanding controversy in the English education community and
among the public, have been subjected to a massive boycott by
In 2009, ETS released the My Credentials Vault Service with
Interfolio, Inc to "simplify the entire letter of recommendation
ETS has been criticized for being a "highly competitive business
operation that is as much multinational monopoly as nonprofit
institution". Due to its legal status as a non-profit
organization, ETS is exempt from paying federal corporate income tax
on many, but not all, of its operations. Furthermore, it does not need
to report financial information to the Securities and Exchange
Commission, though it does annually report detailed financial
information to the
IRS on Form 990, which is publicly available.
In response to growing criticism of its monopolistic power, New York
state passed the Educational Testing Act, a disclosure law which
required ETS to make available certain test questions and graded
answer sheets to students.
Problems administering England's national tests in 2008 by ETS Europe
were the subject of thousands of complaints recorded by the Times
Educational Supplement. Their operations were also described as a
"shambles" in the UK Parliament, where a financial penalty was called
for. Complaints included papers not being marked properly, or not
being marked at all and papers being sent to the wrong schools or
lost completely. It has even been suggested that the quality of
service is so poor that the Department for Children, Schools and
Families (formerly the Department for
Education and Skills) might not
be able to publish the 2008 league tables of school performance.
However, the contract was ended by "mutual consent". The UK
government asked Lord Sutherland to conduct an inquiry into the
failure of the 2008 tests. The report included in its main findings:
• primary responsibility for this summer’s delivery failure rests
with ETS Global BV, which won the public contract to deliver the
• ETS’s capacity to deliver the contract proved to be
insufficient. A lack of comprehensive planning and testing by ETS of
its systems and processes was a key factor in the delivery failure;
In 1983, students of James A. Garfield High School in East Los
Angeles, California, achieved unexpectedly high exam results on the
Advanced Placement Exam. ETS implied that the students may have
cheated to obtain such results based on common mistakes across
different exams. The students were required to prove their abilities
and innocence by taking a second exam, which they did
Americans for Educational Testing Reform (AETR) claims that ETS is
violating its non-profit status through excessive profits, executive
compensation, and governing board member pay (which the IRS
specifically advises against). AETR further claims that ETS is
acting unethically by selling test preparation materials, directly
lobbying legislators and government officials, and refusing to
acknowledge test-taker rights. It also criticises ETS for forcing GRE
test-takers to participate in research experiments during the actual
exam. It has also come under criticism for paying its part-time
employees, most of whom are drawn from the less than 10% of the U.S.
population with graduate degrees, a modest $15 an hour (with no
benefits), to grade the essay component of their standardized exams. A
minimum of a bachelor's degree is required of first time raters, and
they are paid only $13 hourly. In December of 2017, ETS, who had hired
an enormous amount of new raters for the
SAT program and lost the
contract after one year, infiltrated other programs with the new hires
and punished long-standing raters by lowering their pay 3-5 dollars
per hour after years of hard-earned service.
In 2014 the
BBC reported that the
Home Office has suspended English
language tests run by ETS after a
BBC investigation uncovered
systematic fraud in the student visa system. Secret filming of
government-approved English exams needed for a visa showed entire
rooms of candidates having the tests faked for them 
Graduate Record Examinations
Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)
SAT (formerly Scholastic Aptitude Test)
Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test
College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
Test of English for International Communications (TOEIC)
Test de français international (TFI)
California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE)
California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program -
replaced by CAASPP (California Assessment of Student Performance and
Progress) in 2015.
State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR)
Praxis test (successor to the NTE)
National Assessment of Educational Progress
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)
the Examen de Admisión a Estudios de Posgrado (EXADEP)
Criticism of the SAT
^ "Company Overview of Apollo
Education Group, Inc.: Robert S.
Murley". Bloomberg Business. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
^ a b History of the Educational Testing Service
^ Fuess, C.M. (1950). "The College Board: Its first fifty years". New
York: The Columbia University Press.
Educational Testing Service
Educational Testing Service (1992). "The Origins of Educational
Testing Service". Princeton, NJ: ETS.
^ Burkhart, F. (November 3, 1996). "Harold Gulliksen, 93, Pioneer in
Testing, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
^ Gulliksen, H. (1950). "Theory of Mental Tests". New York:
^ Landis, D.; Tzeng, O.C.S. (2002). "Samuel J. Messick (1931-1998)".
American Psychologist, 57(2). pp. 132–133.
^ McGillicuddy-DeLisi, A.; Shafrir, U.; Johnson, J.; Renninger, K.
(2008). "Remembering Irving Sigel". Journal of Applied Developmental
Psychology, 29(4). p. 253.
^ Lord, F.M. (1980). "Applications of item response theory to
practical testing problems" Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates,
^ Lord, F.M. (1952). "A Theory of Test Scores". Psychometric
^ Lord, F.M.; Novick, M.R. (1968). "Statistical Theories of Mental
Test Scores". Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
^ Joreskog, K.G.; Van Thillo, M. (1972). "LISREL: A General Computer
Program for Estimating a Linear Structural Equation System Involving
Multiple Indicators of Unmeasured Variables (RB-72-56)" (PDF).
Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.
^ Messick, S. (1989). "Validity". In R.L. Linn (Ed.), Educational
Measurement (3rd Ed.). New York: MacMillan. pp. 13–103.
^ Dempster, A.P.; Laird, N.M.; Rubin, D.B. (1977). "Maximum Likelihood
from Incomplete Data via the EM Algorithm". Journal of the Royal
Statistical Society, 39(1), Series B (Methodological).
^ Rubin, D. Estimating Causal Effects of Treatments in Randomized and
Nonrandomized Studies, Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol. 66,
No.5, (1974), pp. 689.
^ Holland, P. (1986). "
Statistics and Causal Inference". Journal of
the American Statistical Association, 81(396).
^ Frederiksen, N.; Saunders, D.R.; Wand, B. (1957). "The In-Basket
Test". Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 71(9).
^ Holland, P.W.; Thayer, D.T. (1988). "Differential item performance
and the Mantel-Haenszel procedure". In H. Wainer & H.I. Braun
(Eds.), Test Validity. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.
^ Coffman, W.E.. (1971). "Essay Examinations". In R.L. Thorndike
(Ed.), Educational Measurement (2nd Ed.) Washington, D.C.: American
Council on Education. pp. 271–302.
^ Elliot, N. (2005). "On a Scale: A Social History of Writing
Assessment in America". New York: Peter Lang.
^ Alan Stoskopf (Spring 2000). "Sat + Ets = $$$". Rethinking Schools.
14 (3). Retrieved 2007-07-04.
^ "Board: New
SAT to produce better writers". CNN. 2002-06-28.
Archived from the original on October 28, 2007. Retrieved
^ a b Randy Elliot Bennett (2005). "What Does It Mean to Be a
Nonprofit Educational Measurement Organization in the 21st Century?"
(PDF). ETS. Retrieved 2007-07-04.
^ ETS. "Contact Us". Retrieved 2010-05-12.
^ Jennifer Merritt (2004-04-26). "A Syllabus Way Beyond The SATs".
Business Week. Archived from the original on 2007-10-28. Retrieved
^ ETS buys Prometric
^ National Center for
Statistics (2010). "The History of
NAEP Contractors". Retrieved 2010-05-14.
^ ETS (2010). "ETS". Retrieved 2010-05-15.
^ Examiners knew about maths error
^ Call for a GCSE shake-up as pass mark sinks to 16%
^ Admin staff 'marking GCSE papers'
^ Lipsett, Anthea (May 15, 2008). "Headteachers angry at Sats
'nightmare'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2008-05-17.
^ Curtis, Polly (19 July 2008). "A history of exam failures". London:
The Guardian. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
^ "Sats marking contract is scrapped".
BBC News. August 15, 2008.
Retrieved May 1, 2010.
^ Guardian (4 June 2009). "Hundreds of Sats examiners wrongly
disqualified". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
^ Guardian (6 May 2010). "Hundreds of primaries to boycott Sats". The
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^ Nordheimer, Jon; Frantz, Douglas (September 30, 1997). "Testing
Giant Exceeds Roots, Drawing Business Rivals' Ire". New York Times.
^ "Teacher Watch: ETS Monopoly Continues". HorseSense and Nonsense.
Educational Testing Service
Educational Testing Service - Hoover's profile". Answers.com.
^ Warwick Mansell (4 July 2008). Chaos casts doubt over tests
deadline. Times Educational Supplement.
^ MPs criticise testing 'shambles'. BBC. 20 May 2008.
^ More questions about Sats results. BBC. 17 July 2008.
^ Schools hunting missing papers. BBC. 24 July 2008.
^ Mike Baker (18 July 2008). League tables 'might be scrapped'.
^ "Sats marking contract is scrapped".
BBC News. August 15,
^ Stand and Deliver Revisited
^ United States Internal Revenue Service (February 7, 2007). "Good
Governance Practices for 501(c)(3) Organizations" (PDF). Retrieved
^ Americans for Educational Testing Reform (10 May 2009). "America's
Corporate Guinea Pigs - How ETS Exploits GRE Test-Takers" (PDF).
^ Student visa system fraud exposed in
^ ETS. "EXADEP". Retrieved 2010-08-01.
Bickerstaffe, George, "Students Without IT Need Not Apply", Financial
Times (London), October 26, 1998, p. 17.
Brennan, Lisa, "ETS, Kaplan in Legal Skirmish over Test Security", New
Jersey Law Journal, January 23, 1995, p. 3.
Celis, William, III, "Computer Admissions Test Found to Be Ripe for
Abuse" New York Times, December 16, 1994.
Elson, John, "The Test That Everyone Fears", Time, November 12, 1990.
Honan, William, "Computer Admissions Test to Be Given Less Often", New
York Times, January 4, 1995.
Kladko, Brian, "Computer Technology Passes Judgment on Students'
Essays", Record (Bergen County, N.J.), July 9, 2001.
Merritt, Jennifer, "Why the Folks at ETS Flunked the Course", Business
Week, December 29, 2003, p. 48.
Nairn, Allan, The Reign of ETS: The Corporation That Makes Up Minds,
New York: Ralph Nader, 1980.
Nissimov, Ron, "
SAT Officials to Stop Flagging Disabled Students'
Tests", Houston Chronicle, July 22, 2002.
Nowlin, Sanford, "Standardized Test Giants Lock Horns in Court over
Allegedly-Stolen Secrets", San Antonio Express-News, April 8, 2001.
Owen, David, None of the Above: Behind the Myth of Scholastic
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Sidener, Jonathan, "
Educational Testing Service
Educational Testing Service of Princeton, N.J.,
Develops New Grading System", Arizona Republic, February 1, 1999.
Tabor, Mary B.W., "Disabled to Get an Extra Chance for S.A.T.s", New
York Times, April 1, 1994.
"Testing Company Claims State's Bidding Process Is Unfair", Associated
Press State & Local Wire, January 6, 2003.
Vickers, Marcia, "Hate Exams? Here's a Chance to Profit from Them",
New York Times, Business Section, October 5, 1997, p. 4
Weinstein, David, "ETS to Create Standardized English Test for Chinese
Government", Associated Press State & Local Wire, July 9, 2002.
Williams, Dennis A., "Testers V. Cram Courses", Newsweek, August 12,
Winerip, Michael, "No. 2 Pencil Fades as Graduate Exam Moves to
Computer", New York Times, November 15, 1993.
ETS Signs New
College Board Contract
Form 990 from the
IRS – lists ETS' executives' incomes
Educational Testing Service
Educational Testing Service in Europe, Middle-East and Africa
Americans for Educational Testing Reform (AETR)
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