For the fourth time since the pandemic began, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) has laid off employees.
Last week, more than 40 employees were laid off at ETS, according to employees and former employees at the world’s largest non-profit educational testing and assessment company, which is headquartered in Lawrence on Rosedale Road. One employee who was laid off after 30 years of service said the pandemic was cited as the reason for the layoffs.
Media relations representatives for ETS did not respond to inquiries from Planet Princeton about the layoffs or the reasons for cuts. We also asked how many full-time employees the organization has now after the latest round of layoffs. As of April of 2020, ETS employed more than 2,500 people.
The first round of layoffs after the pandemic began took place in April of 2020 and included many voluntary separations. At the time, the company cut the salaries of employees, offered voluntary buyouts to some workers, and laid off or furloughed some employees in response to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Pay was cut by 10 percent for some employees. The cuts appeared to be scaled. Some employees reported that their pay cut was less than 10 percent. Employees with 15 years of service or more were offered a voluntary separation agreement.
A second round of involuntary layoffs took place in September of 2020. A third round of layoffs in March of 2021 included some higher-level employees.
In an April 2020 statement about the first round of layoffs, a representative stressed the impact the pandemic has had on testing. “While our top priority remains the health and wellbeing of our employees, customers and communities, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on our ability to deliver assessments and conduct business,” read a statement provided to Planet Princeton at the time. “ETS has responded with innovative solutions to continue to serve test takers around the world, but these extraordinary and ongoing challenges have required us to make difficult decisions to ensure our sustainability so that we can continue to serve our mission and the local community that we are proud to call home.”
The pandemic led to a steep decline in K-12 student testing. The pandemic, plus a flurry of immigration-related directives from the Trump Administration, also led to a large drop in the enrolment of international students at U.S. educational institutions in 2020, meaning fewer students took the TOEFL test. Foreign student enrollment tumbled 18 percent in 2020, according to the Wall Street Journal. Visa records for newly enrolled students dropped 72 percent, and F-1 student visas plumetted by more than 90 percent in August of 2020.
About 1.5 million students in the high school Class of 2021 took the SAT at least once, down 700,000 from the Class of 2020. The College Board paused testing in March, May and June of 2020, affecting the ability of members of the Class of 2021 to take the SAT test. More than 1 million test registrations were cancelled as schools and test centers had to close or reduce capacity because of the pandemic, according to a new report from the College Board that was issued Sept. 15.