Inside Higher Ed  is reporting this evening that testing firm Educational Testing Service (ETS) has offered voluntary buyouts to every employee in the United States with more than two years of service at the firm. The publication refers to this as “massive downsizing.”

This news comes just a few weeks after layoffs that affected about 69 employees, which I wrote about in this space.

According to a video address by CEO Amit Sevak that was sent to employees and obtained by Inside Higher Ed, anyone “on the fence” about the package is encouraged to take it, and that “the purpose is to reduce our staff in the most gracious way we can.”  Sevak reportedly described the buyout as “an opportunity.”

Unsurprisingly, that’s not how employees see it.  Inside Higher Ed quoted a longtime ETS employee as noting:

“This is affecting people who raised their families alongside their work at ETS, people who have spent lifetimes working on a single product… it’s been an hour since the news broke and folks are earnestly sharing self-harm and suicide-prevention hotlines.”

According to Inside Higher Ed, Sevak noted in the video that involuntary layoffs may occur once the voluntary buyout has been completed.

IHE cited a decline in popularity of the GRE as one possible cause of the layoffs. They did not mention increased competition in the English language testing space, which may also be a factor.  They did, however, mention that ETS’s new contract with the College Board is “less lucrative” than in the past. I suspect this is one of the biggest factors, as the 80+ year-old deal with College Board accounted for about 30% of revenues at ETS according to their most recent tax filings.

I’ll post more as I learn it.

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