The Chronicle of Higher Education
Monday, February 5, 2001
ETS Sues Exam-Coaching School in China, Charging Theft of Test Questions
By DANIEL WALFISH
The Educational Testing Service has sued China's most popular exam-coaching school, charging it with using test questions that the service believes were stolen and that are still in use on tests, thereby hurting the integrity of the service's exams. E.T.S. also indicated that if the suit is not successful, it may stop giving its tests in China.
The suit comes at a time when the international community is closely watching China to see if it can enforce commitments it has made on intellectual-property protection in order to join the World Trade Organization.
The lawsuit, filed in a Chinese court, calls for the New Oriental School, in Beijing, to stop infringing, to compensate E.T.S. for legal costs and for the profits New Oriental has made through the sale of copyrighted materials, and to apologize to E.T.S. in the Chinese media.
The action follows five years of sporadic enforcement efforts by E.T.S. against the the innovative school, which gives standardized-test-preparation courses to as many as 80 percent of the 24,000 Chinese students who go to the United States each year.
New Oriental officials said they were not aware of the lawsuit and declined to make any specific comment. They have previously denied stealing test questions.
They say they have tried unsuccessfully to contact the testing service. An assistant director of New Oriental, Robert Du, said,
"We want to find a sustainable solution with E.T.S."
E.T.S. replied through a spokesman that it "has no present reason to trust New Oriental School for any purpose." According to E.T.S., New Oriental has twice agreed to stop distributing inappropriately obtained test questions and then continued infringing.
E.T.S. says that New Oriental has questions that are still "live" for the Test of English as a Foreign Language and the Graduate
Record Examination and that it believes that the school stole them when the tests were administered in paper format. But several Chinese students who took those tests say the tests did not include any questions they had seen before in New Oriental material.
The testing service does not believe that the integrity of the Graduate Management Admissions Test, which is also administered in China, has been threatened.
E.T.S. has raised the stakes in the case by threatening to stop administering the TOEFL and the GRE to the 100,000 students in mainland China who take them each year.