College Board & The Natural Selection Racket

AP Biology
“The principles of natural selection and its components appear throughout the course.”–College Board

“We do not seek to reduce the education of our young to the inculcation of fairy tales or of a simple whitewashed heroic, even hagiographical nationalist narrative.”—-Open Letter from 122 scholars opposing the College Board Advanced Placement Exam

“Science must be free to examine what it sees.  If you’re going to say everyone must follow the Darwinian line, that’s not free science.”—Carl Woese in conversation with me in 2012

“What I’m saying is these commercial interests have insinuated themselves into the professional evaluation system.”—Science and Technology Historian David F. Noble talking to me in 2010

A shake-up of the testing organization College Board is urgently required—particularly when it comes to the content of its biology course and exam framework, which currently devotes 24 pages or 22% to Darwinian natural selection, describing it in the “Essential Knowledge” section as “a major mechanism of evolution.” Astonishingly, College Board admits:  “The principles of natural selection and its components appear throughout the course.

This is a catastrophe!  The problem, of course, is that the evolution paradigm has shifted and

“No one in the mainstream scientific community now takes selection literally.”  


Yet, students in order to get into college are being groomed, and in effect, coerced to embrace the discredited natural selection thought-style via College Board and its vast market-driven network—including thousands of “corporatized” educational institutions.

University Inc. - 2

What exactly is College Board?  College Board describes itself this way in its literature:

“Each year, College Board helps more than seven million students [emphasis added] prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and service in college readiness and college success—including the SAT® and the Advanced Placement® Program (AP®).  The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy [emphasis added] on behalf of students, educators, and schools. . . . More than 6,000 two- and four-year colleges, universities, secondary schools and districts, higher education systems and other nonprofit organizations compose the College Board [emphasis added]. . . . Most four-year colleges and universities in the United States grant credit, advanced placement, or both on the basis of successful AP Exam scores.  More than 3,300 institutions worldwide annually receive AP scores.”

But College Board’s in-house description masks this reality:

“Legally, College Board is a nonprofit, charitable organization (501 (c)(3)). . .[with] a for-profit arm. . .with a quarter billion dollars nestled. . .offshore. . . . If College Board is a monopoly, as some believe. . . .[e]ither regulate the monopoly parts as is done with public utilities or break up the College Board, as was done most famously with Standard Oil.”—Richard P. Phelps, “Does College Board deserve public subsidies?

For example, just whose interests does the following 2019/2020 SAT “survival of the fittest” test question accommodate? (College Board notes, by the way, that its multiple choice questions are scored by robot and “one and only one” choice is correct; its free-response questions are scored by “thousands of college faculty and expert AP teachers.”):

SAT Question 12

“Which of the following correctly explains how a favorable genetic trait can increase frequency in a population?

Select an answer:

A. Lamarck’s principle

B. Natural selection

C. Adaptive radiation

D. Genetic recombination

E. Segregation of alleles

. . . .

The correct answer is natural selection (B).  Favorable traits increase in a population over time because the organisms bearing those favorable traits have some advantage over other members of the population and thus leave more surviving offspring than do individuals without the traits.  This is sometimes called “survival of the fittest”. . . . Lamarck, while a very important man in his time, and one who struggled to come up with an explanation that made sense has been shown to have been wrong about inheritance of acquired characteristics, so choice (A) is clearly wrong.”

The AP Biology Course and Exam (effective Fall 2019) says it is developed with “a thorough analysis of the syllabi of highly effective AP teachers and the organization of typical college textbooks.”  It bills itself as equal to “a two-semester college introductory biology course for biology majors,” covering material “students should know and be able to do upon completion of the AP course.”

The AP Biology Course and Exam advises this regarding natural selection:

“The concepts in Unit 7 [a 24-page section titled “Natural Selection”] build on foundational content from previous units as students discover natural selection. . . . Biological principles studied here and in previous units will culminate in Unit 8, which covers ecology. . . . The principles of natural selection and its components appear throughout the course. [emphasis added] It is important that students are precise in the language they use when writing about evolution being careful to avoid statements that are Lamarckian.” 

Who’s responsible for developing the College Board’s biology content? College Board’s director of AP Biology Content Development is Catherine E. Walsh. She holds a BA in biology from Florida Atlantic University (1998) and describes herself on her Linkedin page as “Director of Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, AP Biology.”

Walsh’s co-architects of biology course content include these committee members, consultants, and reviewers: (1) Robert Benedetto, Central Catholic High School, Lawrence, MA, (2) Edwin Braddy, Saddlebrook Preparatory School, Wesley Chapel, FL, (3) Sara Brownell, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, (4) Melissa Cuellar, J.B. Alexander High School, Laredo, TX, (5) Elizabeth De Stasio, Lawrence University, Appleton, WI, (6) Margaret Evans, Woodbridge Senior High School, Woodbridge, VA, (7) Megan Faliero, Bishop O’Dowd High School, Oakland, CA, (8) Lee Ferguson, Allen High School, Allen, TX, (9) Graham Kent, Smith College, Northampton, MA, (10) Allison Kittay, Redwood High School, Larkspur, CA, (11) Brian Lazzaro, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, (12) Mark Little, Broomfield High School, Broomfield, CO, (13) Nancy Morvillo, Florida Southern College, Lakeland, FL, (14) Lisa Neeseman, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY.

But let’s not forget College Board CEO David Coleman (annual salary $1M plus)—who has been under considerable scrutiny since he took the reins in 2013 for bringing mediocrity to College Board’s testing through the organization’s biases and manipulative outreach.  Consider the AP Course Audit: 

“[T]he AP Program does have a short list of curricular and resource requirements that must be fulfilled before a school can label a course “Advanced Placement” or “AP.”  Schools wishing to offer AP courses must participate in the AP Course Audit, a process through which AP teachers’ course materials are reviewed by college faculty. . .This process ensures that AP teachers’ courses meet or exceed the curricular and resource expectations that college and secondary school faculty have established for college-level courses.” 

And then there’s the College Board’s Board of Trustees.

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Dawkins’ Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES), referred to in my previous post, factor into this discussion of natural selection as well.  The fruit of NGSS/TIES collusion is apparent in the school systems of 26 US states.  According to NGSS:

“The term ‘natural selection’ is explicitly included in some standards in the middle school and high school grade band.  However, standards in earlier grades also build towards an understanding of natural selection.”

Indeed, the indoctrination begins much earlier, affecting K-12 science education.

Several pages of College Board’s web site are devoted to “Doing Business with the College Board.” 

Particularly distressing is that, as author Richard Phelps points out in his article cited above:  

“The US Education Department (USED) is not the only federal agency sending money to College Board. . . Others include the Departments of Defense, Justice, State, and Homeland Security.”


2 thoughts on “College Board & The Natural Selection Racket

  1. Susan – Kudos for your heroic efforts. And I share your frustrations. Methinks that the post-darwinian paradigm shift has already occurred. However, as Kuhn suggested – it is largely invisible. David Warsh makes the same point about Paul Romer’s paradigm shift to New Growth Economics. – The bottleneck is the textbooks. If it doesn’t get into the textbooks it didn’t happen. Romer countered with his own textbook. Semi-successful. More than anything else, “Getting Over Darwin” (forthcoming from me), requires the articulation of the superseding paradigm. – Keep your eye on the deep sea vent crowd: Bill Martin and Mike Russell (and Chemobrionics associates). Fully committed to a constructivist, post-darwinian perspective.


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