One of the best-known testing organizations working in U.S. schools, ACT, says that a new market is opening up for its assessments: Egypt.
The Iowa-based nonprofit says it has reached an agreement with the government of Egypt that will allow for an array of its tests for elementary and secondary grades and college admissions to be used in the country. The news offers a window into the competitive global market for U.S.-based education products, and the extent to which American companies are hustling to find potentially lucrative business abroad, as demand for and access to college education in those countries surges.
The arrangement is not a contract per se, but an agreement in which Eygpt’s ministries of education and higher education are allowing the ACT test and ACT subject-area tests be used for admission to postsecondary institutions in the country, the testing group said. Previously, only SAT scores were accepted, according to the ACT.
In addition to the college-admissions work, international private schools in Egypt will be able to administer various ACT tests to students as a graduation requirement; Egyptian students will be able to use a test called ACT Aspire for summative testing in grades 3-9; and schools in the country will use the PreACT as an assessment for grades 9-11, according to the testing company.
Officials from the College Board, which directs the SAT and is thus the ACT’s main rival in the college-admissions space, noted in a statement to EdWeek Market Brief that the SAT and its related subject-area tests have been recognized as a credential “for decades” in Egypt.
ACT officials said that ConnecME, an international education management company based in the United Arab Emirates, played a big role in forging the arrangement with the Egyptian government.
“This agreement will truly give students more choice and greater flexibility in testing,” ACT Chief Commercial Officer Suzana Delanghe said in a statement. “ACT is committed to serving international markets and helping them prepare students for success.”
The ACT already has a global footprint. The organization says it operates ACT test centers in 160 countries. In addition to its testing work, the ACT has been involved in workforce assessment in countries such as Mexico, and it has done education consulting work in Australia, China, and the UAE.
The ACT also makes its global assessment certificate program available in Mexico, China, Vietnam, and Indonesia, among other nations. The certificate is a college-prep program for students whose first language is not English. It is designed to give students academic knowledge, English-language training, independent learning skills, and other preparation to succeed at an English-speaking university.
Working in international private schools offers a potentially lucrative opportunity for companies like the ACT. There are more than 9,600 “English-medium” private schools worldwide–or schools offering instruction primarily in English, with an internationally themed curriculum, according to ISC Research, a British organization which tracks those schools. The number of those schools rose by 6 percent in the most recent year, a growth fueled by rising spending power in many foreign countries and families’ desire to prepare their children for college abroad.
College Board programs, including the SAT test and Advanced Placement programs, are available to students in more than 180 nations and territories, the College Board said. The organization’s relationships with ministries of education and universities in different countries have resulted in the SAT being used as a standard for college admission Jordan, Lebanon, and the UAE, as well as Egypt, said College Board spokeswoman Maria Eugenia Alcón-Heraux.
The College Board has also made a push to increase the use of the SAT in specific countries, such as India, where it formed the India Global Higher Education Alliance, an effort to promote collaboration among postsecondary schools in that nation to engage with others around the world on issues such as admissions, recruitment, and enrollment.
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