SAT Administrator ETS Hit With Layoffs

Educational Testing Service (ETS) will lay off 6% of its workforce despite rising SAT participation.
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Published on October 4, 2023
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  • Educational Testing Service (ETS), which administers the SAT, will lay off 6% of its workforce.
  • ETS administers the SAT on behalf of the College Board, which owns the test. ETS also owns the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE).
  • The layoffs come as schools increasingly move away from testing requirements.
  • ETS will look to revamp its existing tests and potentially create new ones, a spokesperson told BestColleges.

Educational Testing Service (ETS), the nonprofit that administers the SAT, will lay off 6% of its workforce amid a changing education landscape, a spokesperson confirmed to BestColleges.

ETS announced those staff reductions Friday as we undergo a transformation to better serve our customers' evolving needs amidst a changing education landscape, the ETS spokesperson told BestColleges by email. ETS administers the SAT, which is created and owned by the College Board.

ETS continues to maintain a strong product portfolio that cuts across a variety of sectors (e.g., English-language proficiency, higher ed, teacher certification), the ETS spokesperson said in an email.

We are also keenly aware of the challenges currently impacting education and assessment organizations alike, and that the landscape is poised to continue evolving, which is why we're hyper focused on how best to support our customers in the future.

ETS is looking at overhauling its own assessments and creating new ones, the spokesperson said. While ETS administers the College Board-owned SAT, the nonprofit also owns other tests, like the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), although some master's programs have moved away from requiring that test in recent years.

The layoffs were first reported by Inside Higher Ed, which noted that the testing administrator has been hit with multiple rounds of layoffs since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic — and that the testing nonprofit's SAT contract with the College Board is up for renewal next year.

The ETS spokesperson told BestColleges that affected employees will remain on staff until January, and they will also receive a severance package.

Participation in the SAT rose by roughly 200,000 students from the class of 2022 to the class of 2023, although universities have increasingly embraced test-optional policies and moved away from requiring standardized test scores from incoming students.

Many universities abandoned standardized testing requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, and some schools have since made that policy permanent.

Harvard waived standardized testing for undergraduates through the class of 2030. The University of California system voted to eliminate standardized testing requirements by 2025. The number of universities with test-optional policies is at an all-time high, BestColleges previously reported.

Some schools ended their pandemic-era test-optional policies: Purdue University, for example, announced last year that it would require standardized testing again for applicants for the 2024-2025 academic year.

The College Board announced earlier this year that the SAT will get a digital overhaul by 2024, although scoring will remain unchanged. ETS also announced a major overhaul of its own GRE earlier this year, cutting the time required to take the test in half.