The Morality of Test Prep

Mik Ekim
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The Morality of Test Prep

Postby Mik Ekim » Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:46 pm

Hi all --

I'm writing an article and hoping to get some help from all of you --

The article is about the relationship between test takers and test prep companies --

Here's my question to you (and I know it's very open-ended): what is your moral expectation for test prep companies?

Test prep companies kinda fall into a gray area because

a) they are teachers, and we expect our teachers to put our interests before theirs

b) they are businesses, and we tend to expect less morality from people trying to sell us something

Thanks in advance to all of you who can spare a little time to give your thoughts -

Mike

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TheMostDangerousLG
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby TheMostDangerousLG » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:12 pm

Mik Ekim wrote:Hi all --

I'm writing an article and hoping to get some help from all of you --

The article is about the relationship between test takers and test prep companies --

Here's my question to you (and I know it's very open-ended): what is your moral expectation for test prep companies?

Test prep companies kinda fall into a gray area because

a) they are teachers, and we expect our teachers to put our interests before theirs

b) they are businesses, and we tend to expect less morality from people trying to sell us something

Thanks in advance to all of you who can spare a little time to give your thoughts -

Mike


They are businesses, and I don't see how "morality" comes into play in either scenario.

Big Dog
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby Big Dog » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:16 pm

a) they are teachers, and we expect our teachers to put our interests before theirs


do you really believe that? Seriously?

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spicyyoda17
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby spicyyoda17 » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:19 pm

Big Dog wrote:
a) they are teachers, and we expect our teachers to put our interests before theirs


do you really believe that? Seriously?


I would modify this to say "a) they are teachers, and we expect our teachers to be concerned about both their interests and our interests." I think this is a more reasonable expectation.

I agree for businesses. They are concerned about our interests ONLY SO LONG AS they work to serve the company's interests.

Mik Ekim
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby Mik Ekim » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:22 pm

spicyyoda17 wrote:
Big Dog wrote:
a) they are teachers, and we expect our teachers to put our interests before theirs


do you really believe that? Seriously?


I would modify this to say "a) they are teachers, and we expect our teachers to be concerned about both their interests and our interests." I think this is a more reasonable expectation.

I agree for businesses. They are concerned about our interests ONLY SO LONG AS they work to serve the company's interests.


Thanks for the responses so far -- I think spicyyoda's edit is probably better than what I initially wrote.

totoro
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby totoro » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:22 pm

Can you give an example of where there would be tension between students' and teachers' interests? I mean, on the scale of business morality, I can't imagine that teachers at test prep companies are anywhere near the bottom. I imagine our interests are aligned for the most part, i.e. a test prep company should help students get high scores - this is in both of their interests, because then those students would post on TLS and refer other people to those classes.

Big Dog
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby Big Dog » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:27 pm

I would modify this to say "a) they are teachers, and we expect our teachers to be concerned about both their interests and our interests." I think this is a more reasonable expectation.



Then, what is the moral dilemma?

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spicyyoda17
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby spicyyoda17 » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:28 pm

For me, I look at test prep companies like I do personal trainers.

-They want you to succeed, because if you succeed, you will recommend them to other people, they will have more customers, and therefore will make more money.
-They want to make as much money off of you as possible without making your experience a negative one. This may mean recommending additional purchases (more hours of private tutoring, supplemental materials, etc.) that you may only marginally benefit from. They will push these on you, but not so much that you will begin viewing them as salespeople vs. advocates.
-The biggest conflict of interest COULD be in that if you don't succeed ENOUGH, you will redo the class, which can make the test prep company more money. However, most prep classes do away with this potential conflict by offering free re-enrollment for unsatisfied students.

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A → B ⊨ ¬B → ¬A
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby A → B ⊨ ¬B → ¬A » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:33 pm

totoro wrote:Can you give an example of where there would be tension between students' and teachers' interests?


http://onellp.com/main/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Complaint-TestMasters-v.-Hall-and-Velocity.pdf

Mik Ekim
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby Mik Ekim » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:36 pm

totoro wrote:Can you give an example of where there would be tension between students' and teachers' interests? I mean, on the scale of business morality, I can't imagine that teachers at test prep companies are anywhere near the bottom. I imagine our interests are aligned for the most part, i.e. a test prep company should help students get high scores - this is in both of their interests, because then those students would post on TLS and refer other people to those classes.


I think for the most part, the interests are absolutely aligned (after all, I co-created Manhattan LSAT, and the help that students have gotten from that, especially from the books, has given me a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction -- so obviously I love the positives of the relationship) --

I imagine the tension coming from more subtle areas -- for example, a teacher offering suggestions of a strategy without thoroughly vetting its effectiveness --

But to be honest, my real interest is in seeing whether you, as students, see this gray area existing, and to me, this is tied to student expectations about the relationship --

From the responses so far, I think it's pretty clear most of you don't see any gray area! Again, I appreciate the responses.

Mik Ekim
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby Mik Ekim » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:37 pm

spicyyoda17 wrote:For me, I look at test prep companies like I do personal trainers.

-They want you to succeed, because if you succeed, you will recommend them to other people, they will have more customers, and therefore will make more money.
-They want to make as much money off of you as possible without making your experience a negative one. This may mean recommending additional purchases (more hours of private tutoring, supplemental materials, etc.) that you may only marginally benefit from. They will push these on you, but not so much that you will begin viewing them as salespeople vs. advocates.
-The biggest conflict of interest COULD be in that if you don't succeed ENOUGH, you will redo the class, which can make the test prep company more money. However, most prep classes do away with this potential conflict by offering free re-enrollment for unsatisfied students.


makes a lot of sense. thanks.

hayman
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby hayman » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:48 pm

I think objectives of a good business isn't any less moral than other endeavors. They are to provide a valuable service in exchange for $.

Teachers are revered because there's this perception that teachers makes less money than their talents allow and that they support a broader goal of educating the society. Prep teachers though are somewhat different. People in prep can make good money-relatively speaking, and also what they teach is so much more narrower.

Only real morality issue of test prep may exist in terms of unfairly advantaging those that are already well advantaged.

totoro
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby totoro » Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:25 pm



Oh well.... personally I don't really have any problems with Dave Hall. There are different levels of "morality", this is very minor imo.... I mean, he scored 180 twice, and the third time he scored 177; he didn't get his score because he didn't complete the certifying statement, but he made claims that he got 180. Honestly, this does not affect his ability to teach whatsoever. Maybe he shouldn't have done it, but it's not like someone claims they scored 180 multiple times and then when you pay them for tutoring, you realize they don't know what they're talking about. He has really mastered the LSAT and knows what he's talking about. I saw this much more as a conflict of interest between Testmasters and Dave rather than between him and his students.

And +1 to everything hayman said.

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A → B ⊨ ¬B → ¬A
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby A → B ⊨ ¬B → ¬A » Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:33 pm

totoro wrote:


Oh well.... personally I don't really have any problems with Dave Hall. There are different levels of "morality", this is very minor imo.... I mean, he scored 180 twice, and the third time he scored 177; he didn't get his score because he didn't complete the certifying statement, but he made claims that he got 180. Honestly, this does not affect his ability to teach whatsoever. Maybe he shouldn't have done it, but it's not like someone claims they scored 180 multiple times and then when you pay them for tutoring, you realize they don't know what they're talking about. He has really mastered the LSAT and knows what he's talking about. I saw this much more as a conflict of interest between Testmasters and Dave rather than between him and his students.

And +1 to everything hayman said.


I think DH is very smart and a good teacher, but the OP asked about morality. I still watch his LG explanations because being misleading or dishonest has no bearing on deductive logic.

ws81086n
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby ws81086n » Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:37 pm

Neither the profit motive nor moral considerations should be prioritized to the exclusion of the other, but I think it's perfectly fine to give priority to the profit motive. The purpose of a business is to make money, and those who would want moral considerations to play a central role should consider what they would do if faced with a choice between staying competitive and "doing the right thing". Naturally, I think, their rhetoric would not match their actions when their own financial interests were on the line (and that's OK!). Take PS's Logic Games workbook, for instance. The practice sections at the end of the book are all from the 40's (widely regarded for good reasons as the easiest LG's), and none of them are hard. They're not all jokes, but all things being equal, they're not the best gauge of one's abilities for the current LG's. The reason for this is obvious: better performance on those practice sections means better reviews, which in turn means more money for the author. But that's perfectly fine and to expect otherwise is to be too idealistic.

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TheThriller
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby TheThriller » Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:59 pm

I tutor the lsat and I do it because I love teaching, the money is negligible.

shieldofachilles
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby shieldofachilles » Tue Feb 12, 2013 9:21 pm

are u in my business ethics class?....have a paper on whether morality is applicable to business. due tmro and i completely neglected in favor of taking a pt tonight lol.

Mik Ekim
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby Mik Ekim » Tue Feb 12, 2013 9:35 pm

shieldofachilles wrote:are u in my business ethics class?....have a paper on whether morality is applicable to business. due tmro and i completely neglected in favor of taking a pt tonight lol.


yes! I sit right behind you!

cubswin
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby cubswin » Tue Feb 12, 2013 9:48 pm

I think there's a disconnect between a lot of instructors and the people that control the marketing. The latter try to sell potential customers on the idea that upward mobility can essentially be purchased by taking one of our classes. And while instructors can't come out and flatly contradict this and tell someone who scores a 133 on their first LSAT that there's probably little chance they will ever get into a law school worth attending given the current economy (especially since this opinion is susceptible to being characterized as subjective and incorrect), they do tend to be more upfront that the gains most people achieve in classes are modest.

TERS
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby TERS » Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:37 pm

I don't see the point of discussing morality in this context. If you do well, you get your money's worth; if you do well, you're more likely to promote the test prep company. What am I missing?

shieldofachilles
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby shieldofachilles » Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:05 am

consider the following hypo for a sec right....say a prep company guarantees a ten point bump from first to last lsat right...and then creates certain conditions in order for a comfortable level of certainty their students do get that increase. for example, they take (hypothetical) hardest lsat ever given then rearrange the questions so the hardest questions are first and the easiest last. Then on the last test they give you at the end of the course its the easiest lsat ever given..and voila you got your 10 point bump. the company has not violated any of its promise, in fact, they owned up to everything they said. now a kid goes and takes the real thing and bombs. how can we not evaluate the ethical decisions of the company. if the company is providing you with a service then their interests should firmly coincide with the client. if the sole interest is maximizing profits for a prolonged period of time and not for the sake of making a killing this quarter, then what the company represents (i.e. a morally praiseworthy or blameworthy entity) has to affect the potential earnings of that company. my .02. (btw im not advocating the position above but considering the implication and what u guys think too...since just like OP i think..i have a paper to write on this shit)

kaseyb002
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby kaseyb002 » Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:44 am

Teachers who put the interest of the student first will make the most profit.

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CardozoLaw09
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby CardozoLaw09 » Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:46 am

kaseyb002 wrote:Teachers who put the interest of the student first will make the most profit.


+1

uvabro
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby uvabro » Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:06 am

I tutor and when I outsource tutors always give people realistic advice up front. I am sure it loses minimum 25 percent of $ i can make, but i still make more $ from it than i can doing anything else, never had an unhappy client and though will likely go to hell it won't be for dishonesty. Also, the people with a 133 and 3.0 set on Harvard are nightmare clients. It just isn't worth a 1000 bux to deal with them and be sketchy.

uvabro
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Re: The Morality of Test Prep

Postby uvabro » Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:18 am

But the big tension is when a person comes with a 130 and 3 from sine crap ug and wants tutoring but also is poor but wants to be a lawyer. I wouldnt give them a discount because ive found people with those stats never do what the tutor assigns, and they also have crazy goals. Once tutored a girl for free thinking if she did well shed solicit business. She threatened to sue me for letting students contact her after she improved 20 points. Id still do it heavily discounted but only if people show promise, can prove theyre poor and agree to be on the website. But ppl with low numbers are also a pain to tutor and burn you out. If someones a good dude and smart the 2 hrs fly by like conversation. If they have a 130 the tutor can only work so many hours. I normally assess a few lessons in, and then give them an option for a prorated refund or am candid on what they need to do to get into a respectable school. Yeah, I take money from people I know will fail in the long run but only because I don't want to be sued for discrimination. I have also helped people get scholarships for 150k to schools they wouldn't have gotten into. If i cant be sued for discriminating based on language problems, someone being slower, etc. then I'd my help:hurt balance would be much better.




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