On June 25, 2020, ERB announced an exclusionary marketing agreement with for-profit, Seattle-based, tutoring company Test Innovators. Piqosity was appalled by this unprecedented arrangement between a non-profit education consortium and a for-profit test-prep company and sent an open-letter to ERB’s President, Dr. Thomas Rochon. Dr. Rochon responded on June 29, 2020. However, he fails to “conspicuously and clearly” disclose how much ERB is getting paid by Test Innovators for their endorsement. Below is Piqosity’s third open letter to ERB making this request.
Dear Dr. Rochon and the ERB Board of Trustees,
You are no doubt busy with fall preparations during these difficult times. However, we respectfully request that you fulfill your legal requirement to “clearly and conspicuously” disclose material information regarding ERB’s unprecedented endorsement of Test Innovators, a private, for-profit test prep company:
What is the financial arrangement between ERB, its board, and close partners with Test Innovators? How much money is kicked back to ERB when a registered ISEE student is successfully up-sold to one of Test Innovators’ $380 products? Does ERB receive an additional kickback when a registered ISEE student also purchases online tutoring or test prep courses?
According to FTC regulation (16 CFR § 255.5) under the FTC Act: “When there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (i.e., the connection is not reasonably expected by the audience) such connection must be fully disclosed.”
Furthermore, the manner must, “clearly and conspicuously disclose either the payment or promise of compensation prior to and in exchange for the endorsement.”
Since neither SSAT, ACT, nor College Board have such arrangements, and since ERB has previously also not had such a relationship, I don’t see how ERB and Test Innovators can argue to federal regulators that parents (the audience) would reasonably expect such a financial agreement to be in place now.
On behalf of the more than 40,000 ISEE students and their educators who reference Piqosity, I’d like to be able to clear up this matter. We consider this our 3rd and final written request for the legally required—clear and conspicuous—disclosure.